In the late 20th century a disease struck Cornus florida both in culivation and in the wild causing the death of millions of trees in North American. Breeding efforts by Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University resulted in the Rutgers Stellar Series dogwoods considered highly resistant to dogwood borer and moderately to highly resistant to dogwood anthracnose. The trees are a cross between C. florida, a native of the American southeastern states and C. kousa, the Japanese dogwood. The Stellar series blooms slightly later and lacks fruit.
When the native dogwoods bloomed, Native Americans that farmed the flood plains knew it was time to plant their corn. Dogwood is considered such a hard wood it was used to make high stress implements by all cultures within its range.