Shrubs of Wisconsin

Cornus racemosa Lam.
gray dogwood
Family: Cornaceae
shrub branch leaf twig flowers fruit bark

Cornus racemosa is a much-branched, low, clonal shrub. As in most of our dogwoods, the leaves are simple, entire and opposite and the lateral veins tend to curve toward the leaf tip (they are said to be "arcuate"). The small, white, 4-petaled flowers are numerous in a multiply-branched inflorescence, and the red branches of the inflorescence are highly visible as the white berry-like fruit (drupes) mature. Cornus racemosa may be distinguished from the other Cornus species by the twigs. The bark of the current year's growth is an orange-brown color and stands in contrast to the previous year's gray bark.

Cornus racemosa is a common shrub, found nearly throughout Wisconsin except for a few northern counties. Though it will tolerate moderate shade, it does best in various open habitats, both natural and man-made. It is common along the edges of woods and sometimes along the edge of lakes and streams, though not often in very wet soil. It is often abundant in abandoned fields and pastures and along road and other rights-of-way and is sometimes a pest species in grasslands.


known Wisconsin distribution


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