Dogwood in bloom is easy to recognize--you know, it's the tree with those creamy white/greenish/pink petals (which are really modified leaves--the real flowers are the tiny green ones clustered in the center).
When I see Pacific dogwood, here's the story I like to remember: In May 1836, Dr. John Townsend was asked to treat two Cowlitz Indian children who were sick with fever. Unfortunately, he was out of quinine. He described in his journal, later published as Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, how he substituted the bark of Pacific dogwood for the drug.
"Taking one of the parents in the wood with his blanket, I soon chipped off a plentiful supply, boiled it in his own kettle, and completed the preparations in his lodge, with most of the Indians standing by and staring at me to comprehend the process. This was exactly what I wished, and as I proceeded, I took some pains to explain the whole matter to them in order that they might at a future time be enabled to make use of a really valuable medicine which grows abundantly every where throughout the country. I have often thought it strange that the sagacity of the Indians should not long ago have made them acquainted with this remedy. And I believe, if they had used it, they would not have had to mourn the loss of hundreds or even thousands of their people who have been swept away by the demon of ague and fever."
The two children responded to Dr. Townsend's treatments and survived.
In light of the sad history between the native populations and the Europeans who were soon to overrun them, I like to remember that Pacific dogwood trees stand as an example of decency and kindness.