Cornus racemosa (Gray Dogwood)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Cornus
Family:Cornaceae (Dogwood)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; average moisture; open woods, woodland edges, savannas, fields, thickets, roadsides
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:3 to 8 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: flat Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Dome shaped clusters, 1½ to 2½ inches broad and about as high, of short-stalked flowers at the tips of branches. Flowers are creamy white, about ¼ inch across with 4 lance-elliptic petals, the sepals minute or absent. The 4 stamens are about as long as the petals, spreading to ascending around the single green tipped style at center.

Leaves and bark: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and opposite, 2 to 3½ inches long, ¾ to 1¾ inches wide, lance-elliptic, the tip tapered to a long, slender point, the base rounded or tapered to a ¼ to 2/3 inch stalk. The upper surface is dark green with 3 or 4 lateral veins per side, the lower pale green to nearly white, both surfaces with sparse, short, stiff, appressed hairs. Edges are smooth and often a bit wavy.

[photo of twig] Twigs are tan to orange-brown, smooth but for a few dark, raised lenticels (pores) the first year that give it a warty texture. By the second year the bark has turned a dull but smooth brownish gray. Older bark lower on the lower stems can be rough and scaly. Stems are multiple from the ground, mostly straight and nearly simple with dense branching above. The spreading root system readily suckers, often creating large clonal colonies.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round, berry-like drupe, about ¼ inch diameter, white, often with a barely perceptible blueish flush, offset by vibrant red cluster stalks.

Notes:

The dogwoods are distinguished from other flowering shrubs by the clusters of small, 4-petaled white flowers and opposite (except for 1 species) leaves that are toothless and have prominent, arching, lateral veins. Gray Dogwood is an upland forest species, however its does not tolerate too much shade, preferring areas with thin canopies or openings and does very well along roads that have cut through the forest. While it may reach heights of more than 10 feet, 6 feet or less is more typical. Its flowers, leaves and fruit may appear similar to Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea), but the bark of that species, at least in part, is a deep red year round and leaves have 5 or 6 veins per side. As its name indicates, Gray Dogwood has gray bark, and its leaves have 3 or 4 veins per side. Some references have separated the dogwoods out of the Cornus genus into Swida, making Gray Dogwood Swida racemosa, but this is not universally accepted and not currently recognized in Minnesota.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Must have book: Pollinators of Native Plants

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Pine counties. Pollinator photos courtesy Heather Holm.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.