One of the most unique of the old legends handed down in the south is the story of the dogwood tree. The story is just for fun, of course, but hopefully readers will enjoy this legend and share it with family and friends.
The dogwood tree is a beautiful little tree that explodes with white blossoms each spring and is one of the favorite blooming trees among gardeners. It grows across the south and is popular as a yard tree, but it also grows wild in the woods across the region.
Legend holds that the tree was once very large, like a Great Oak tree, and because its wood was strong and sturdy, it provided building material for a variety of purposes. According to the story, it was the dogwood tree that provided the wood used to build the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
Because of its role in the crucifixion, it is said that God both cursed and blessed the tree.
It was cursed to forever be small so that it would never grow large enough again for its wood to be used as a cross for a crucifixion. Further, its branches would be narrow and crooked, not good for building at all.
At the same time, the tree was blessed so that it would produce beautiful flowers each spring, just in time for Easter, to remember God’s promise to the tree as He gave it a few traits so that whoever looks upon it will never forget.
The petals of the dogwood actually form the shape of a cross. Upon close examination, it can be seen that the blooms of the tree always have four petals.
The middle of the dogwood flower has a tight grouping of resembling a “crown of thorns,” and the tips of each of the petals are indented as if they bear a nail dent.
Finally, there are colors in the petals that bring to mind the drops of blood that were spilled during the crucifixion.
Now, when you see a dogwood in bloom, may you always think of Jesus!