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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native shrub is 3-8' tall, erect, and abundantly branched. The bark of older branches is gray or gray-brown and slightly roughened from the abundant small lenticels. Young stems are pale green, yellowish green, or red; they are devoid of hairs. Opposite leaves up to 4" long and 1½" across occur at intervals along these stems; they are lanceolate to ovate and smooth along their margins. The upper leaf surfaces are medium green, yellowish green, or reddish green, while their lower surfaces are pale green; sparse appressed hairs are sometimes present on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Leaf venation is pinnate; there are typically 3-4 curved lateral veins on either side of the central vein on each leaf. The leaf bases are rounded to wedge-shaped (usually the latter), while their tips are long and slender. The slender petioles are up to ¾" long. Occasionally, dome-shaped panicles of flowers are produced; they are about 1½–2½" across and about as tall. Individual flowers are about ¼" across, consisting of a short calyx with 4 small teeth, 4 white lanceolate petals, 4 stamens with pale yellow anthers, and a central pistil. The branches of the panicle are hairless and cream-colored when the flowers are produced; later they become bright red when the fruit matures. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 3 weeks. The flowers are replaced by globoid drupes about ¼" across that become white at maturity. Each fleshy drupe contains 1-2 furrowed seeds. The root system can produce clonal offsets from underground runners; this can result in a thicket of small shrubs.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

Cornus racemosa Lam, gray dogwood, is a thickly branched, slow growing dogwood seldom more than 6 feet high at maturity. Its flowers, which bloom in June or July, are white and loosely clustered, and its white fruit, which appears in September and October, is set off by bright red fruit-stalks. Its leaves are opposite, taper-pointed and oval.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Gray Dogwood has been found in most counties of Illinois; it is a common shrub. Habitats include open woodlands and woodland openings, savannas, prairies, limestone glades, thickets, fence rows, abandoned fields, powerline clearances, and roadsides. In wooded areas, this shrub tends to spread in response to wildfires and selective logging of trees. It is found in both high quality and degraded habitats (more often, the latter).
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Cornus racemosa is native to North America and occurs in dry to moist open sites from central Maine to southern Ontario and Minnesota, south to Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and west to Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma (Fernald 1950). Wilson (1965) lists C. racemosa as a subspecies of C. foemina; C. foemina subsp. racemosa occurring in the northeast U.S. from Maine to Minnesota, south to Missouri and east to Virginia, C. foemina subsp. foemina occurring in the southeast from S. Carolina to Florida west to Arkansas and eastern Texas (Wilson 1965).

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Occurrence in North America

     AR  CT  DE  IL  IN  IA  KY  ME  MD  MA
     MI  MN  MO  NE  NH  NJ  NY  NC  ND  OH
     OK  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  VT  VA  WV  WI
     MB  ON  PQ

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Gray dogwood's main range is from Maine and southern Ontario; south
through New England and Pennyslvania; and west to Ohio, Indiana,
Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.  Its southern range
is from the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia to northern Arkansas.
Disjunct populations also occur in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky,
North and South Dakota, and Nebraska [2,10,17,30].
  • 17.  Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native        and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p.  [2952]
  • 2.  Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Cornus L.  dogwood. In: Schopmeyer, C. S.,        technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.        Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service: 336-342.  [7593]
  • 10.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 30.  Voss, Edward G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicots        (Saururaceae--Cornaceae). Bull. 59. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook        Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium.        724 p.  [11472]

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Adaptation

Gray dogwood has a range of adaptability equaled by few other shrubs, and it tolerates many climatic conditions. Tolerance to shade is considered intermediate. It is not well adapted to coastal plain conditions.

Gray dogwood is distributed throughout the northeastern United States. For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Gray dogwood is a native, deciduous, rhizomatous shrub, usually from 4
to 10 feet (1.2-3.0 m) high.  It sometimes becomes a small tree up to 27
feet (8 m) high [17].  It has ascending stems and branches that often
form impenetrable dome-shaped clusters or thickets [4].  The leaves are
2.5 to 4.0 inches (6.0-10 cm) long, and the flowers are borne in open,
irregular cymes.  The individual fruits enclose a single stone and occur
in clusters [2,6,14].
  • 17.  Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native        and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p.  [2952]
  • 2.  Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Cornus L.  dogwood. In: Schopmeyer, C. S.,        technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.        Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service: 336-342.  [7593]
  • 4.  Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the        Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p.  [12766]
  • 6.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]
  • 14.  Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock,        AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p.  [21266]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Gray Dogwood has been found in most counties of Illinois; it is a common shrub. Habitats include open woodlands and woodland openings, savannas, prairies, limestone glades, thickets, fence rows, abandoned fields, powerline clearances, and roadsides. In wooded areas, this shrub tends to spread in response to wildfires and selective logging of trees. It is found in both high quality and degraded habitats (more often, the latter).
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Comments: Gray dogwood occurs in thickets and moist soil in riparian zones, roadsides, on sandy slopes and limestone ridges (Soper and Heimburger 1982).

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the term: shrubs

Gray dogwood is one of the dominant shrubs in the oak-hickory
(Quercus-Carya) forests of the northeastern United States.  Common
codominants include maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) and
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).  Other common associates
of gray dogwood include American hazel (Corylus americana), beaked
hazelnut (C. cornuta), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), smooth sumac
(Rhus glabra), and red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) [3,23,26].
  • 3.  Buell, Murray F.; Facey, Vera. 1960. Forest-prairie transition west of        Itasca Park, Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 87(1):        46-58.  [14171]
  • 23.  Smith, Albert J. 1975. Invasion and ecesis of bird-disseminated woody        plants in a temperate forest sere. Ecology. 56(1): 19-34.  [15667]
  • 26.  Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in        east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2):        134-144.  [9281]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
   K099  Maple - basswood forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K102  Beech - maple forest
   K101  Elm - ash forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest

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Habitat characteristics

Gray dogwood grows on a variety of sites within its range.  It is found
in meadows, open woodlands, riparian zones, along roadsides, and forest
margins.  It grows best on rich, moist, well-drained soils, but will
also grow on mineral-rich limestone bedrock and rock outcroppings.  In
Appalachian oak-hickory forests, it usually occurs on open ridgetops and
south- and west-facing slopes [1,10,16].
  • 1.  Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State        University Press. 362 p.  [12914]
  • 10.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 16.  Landin, Mary C. 1979. The importance of wetlands in the north central        and northeast United States to non-game birds. In: DeGraaf, Richard M.;        Evans, Keith E., compilers. Management of north central and northeastern        forests for nongame birds: Proceedings of the workshop; 1979 January        23-25; Minneapolis, MN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-51. St. Paul, MN: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest        Experiment Station: 179-188.  [18087]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    17  Pin cherry
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    22  White pine - hemlock
    23  Eastern hemlock
    24  Hemlock - yellow birch
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    28  Black cherry - maple
    30  Red spruce - yellow birch
    31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
    32  Red spruce
    33  Red spruce - balsam fir
    34  Red spruce - Fraser fir
    35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
    37  Northern white-cedar
    39  Black ash - American elm - red maple
    42  Bur oak
    43  Bear oak
    44  Chestnut oak
    52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    57  Yellow-poplar
    58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
    59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
    60  Beech - sugar maple
    62  Silver maple - American elm
    64  Sassafras - persimmon
   107  White spruce
   108  Red maple
   110  Black oak

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Dispersal

Establishment

Only seedlings of gray dogwood are practical. All should be planted as early in the spring as possible. When using dogwood for streambank planting, eroded or steep banks should be graded before planting. Plant in the early spring with dormant planting stock. Planting after May will severely reduce chances for success. One-year rooted cuttings or seedlings can be planted vertically into the bank with one or two inches of cutting wood protruding. They should be stuck in a hole large enough to accommodate the root system when well spread. The soil must be tamped well around the roots. Fresh, unrooted hardwood cuttings, easier to handle but less reliable, should be stuck vertically into the bank, leaving one to two inches above ground. A dibble can be used to make a hole. Tamp adequately to provide complete contact between the cutting and the soil. Cuttings may also be buried horizontally two inches deep in damp soil, if the ground is stony. Fresh hardwood cuttings, 3/8 to 1/2 inch at the thick end, 9 inches long, and made while dormant, are ideal. Without cold storage, planting should be done as soon as possible after cutting. Plant both rooted cuttings and unrooted hardwood cuttings on 2 feet spacing in a diamond pattern.

When using for wildlife or screening purposes, the planting site should be cultivated to destroy existing vegetation. If not, the sod should be removed from an area two feet across for each plant. The holes should be deep enough to allow for the full extension of the roots. Spacing for hedges and screens should be staggered and 2 x 2 feet, and 4 to 5 feet for windbreaks. A small handful of fertilizer can be placed around each plant.

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Gray Dogwood in Illinois

Cornus racemosa (Gray Dogwood)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, other insects suck nectar; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Krombein et al. and Lisberg & Young as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus cp, Bombus pensylvanica cp; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia speciosa sn cp; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada affabilis sn, Nomada superba superba sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn cp, Agapostemon virescens sn cp, Augochlorella aurata sn, Augochlorella striata sn cp, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum tegularis fq, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn, Hylaeus floridanus sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn, Hylaeus modestus modestus sn, Prosopis crataegi sn (Robertson, MS); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn, Andrena commoda sn, Andrena cressonii sn cp, Andrena forbesii sn, Andrena fragilis cp olg (Kr), Andrena hippotes sn, Andrena imitatrix imitatrix sn cp fq, Andrena nigrifrons sn cp fq, Andrena paniculatae sn cp, Andrena rugosa sn cp, Andrena sayi sn cp

Wasps
Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Lestica confluentus, Lindenius columbianus, Oxybelus emarginatus; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Chalybion californicus, Sceliphron caementaria; Pompilidae: Ceropales fulvipes; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus campestris, Ancistrocerus unifasciatus, Eumenes fraterna, Euodynerus foraminatus, Leionotus ziziae (Rb, MS), Monobia quadridens; Chalcididae: Conura torvina

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalinus aeneus, Eristalis dimidiatus, Eristalis transversus, Eupeodes americanus, Mallota bautias, Orthonevra nitida, Trichopsomyia banksi, Tropidia mamillata; Empididae: Empis clausa, Empis distans, Empis levicula; Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis; Tachinidae: Archytas analis fq, Archytas aterrima, Belvosia bifasciata, Belvosia unifasciata, Chetogena claripennis fq, Lespesia frenchii, Paradidyma singularis, Phasia purpurascens, Spallanzania hesperidarum; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax, Sarcophaga bullata; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris, Lucilia sericata; Muscidae: Graphomya americana, Morellia micans; Anthomyiidae: Calythea pratincola; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata; Otitidae: Delphinia picta

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Vanessa atalanta; Papilionidae: Papilio marcellus

Beetles
Cantharidae: Podabrus tomentosus fq, Rhagonycha dichrous fq; Cerambycidae: Strangalia famelica; Mordellidae: Mordella marginata fq (Rb, LY), Mordellistena cervicalis (LY), Mordellistena incommunis (LY), Mordellistena ornata (LY); Scarabeidae: Euphoria fulgida, Trichiotinus affinis icp, Trichiotinus piger fq; Scraptiidae: Pentaria trifasciatus

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Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract a wide variety of insects, including bumblebees, honeybees, Little Carpenter bees, Cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Halictid bees, Masked bees (Hylaeus spp.), Andrenid bees, miscellaneous wasps, Syrphid flies, Dance flies, Tachinid flies, Flesh flies, Blow flies, Muscid flies, butterflies, and miscellaneous beetles. The short-tongued bee Andrena fragilis is an oligolege (specialist pollinator) of dogwood flowers. Many insects utilize Gray Dogwood and other dogwood shrubs as a food source. These species include the larvae of Long-Horned beetles (Oberea spp.), leaf beetles (primarily Calligrapha spp.), flea beetles, several aphids (primarily Aphis spp.), the plant bug Lygocoris communis, the thrips Scirtothrips niveus, the spittlebug Clastoptera proteus, caterpillars of the sawfly Macremphytus testaceus, caterpillars of the butterfly Celastrina argiolus, and larvae of the midge Resseliella clavula. The larvae of this latter insect form club-shaped swellings on the stem-tips of Gray Dogwood. The caterpillars of many moths also feed on dogwood (see the Moth Table for a listing of these species). The berries of dogwood are an important food source to many birds (see the Bird Table). These berries are also eaten by many mammals, including the Black Bear, Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, and White-Footed Mouse. Both the Cottontail Rabbit and White-Tailed Deer browse on the branches and leaves. Because of its dense branching structure, Gray Dogwood is often used as a nesting site by several songbirds. When it forms dense thickets, this provides good cover for many birds and small mammals.
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General Ecology

Populations: Dogwood invasion of grasslands from swales, ravines, and woodland edges of floodplains is accelerated by vegetative reproduction and tolerance to wind, full exposure or partial shade, and dry soils (Pound and Clements 1900, Costello 1931, Steyermark 1940, Albertson and Weaver 1945, Weaver 1965, Duxbury 1982).

As density within a dogwood thicket increases, groundcover vegetation decreases and may become entirely absent (Aikman 1928, Weaver 1965). Annual weeds sometimes grow beneath dogwood (Duxbury 1982, Nyboer pers. comm. 1983), and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) may invade dogwood thickets (Albertson and Weaver 1945, Aikman 1928). Dogwood may persist and sometimes dominate the understory of woods (Duxbury 1982).

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, shrubs

Percent cover of native shrubs, including gray dogwood, decreased
following fire in a bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) savanna in east-central
Minnesota [26].

In a study of postfire plant response in four plant communities in
central New York, gray dogwood frequency on 17 burned plots averaged 62
percent at postfire year 1.  Frequency on unburned plots was 62 percent [25].

The Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007 provides information on
postfire responses of several plant species, including gray dogwood,
that was not available when this species review was originally written.
  • 25.  Swan, Frederick R., Jr. 1970. Post-fire response of four plant        communities in south-central New York state. Ecology. 51(6): 1074-1082.        [3446]
  • 26.  Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in        east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2):        134-144.  [9281]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Aboveground plant parts are often killed by fire [25,26].  The
underground rhizomes probably survive all but severe fires that remove
duff and heat the upper soil for extended periods of time.
  • 25.  Swan, Frederick R., Jr. 1970. Post-fire response of four plant        communities in south-central New York state. Ecology. 51(6): 1074-1082.        [3446]
  • 26.  Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in        east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2):        134-144.  [9281]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: ground residual colonizer, rhizome, shrub

   Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
   Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
   Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

Postfire regeneration strategies of grey dogwood are not documented in
the literature.  It probably survives fire by sprouting from rhizomes.
It also produces an abundance of soil-stored seed [23], which may
germinate after fire.
  • 23.  Smith, Albert J. 1975. Invasion and ecesis of bird-disseminated woody        plants in a temperate forest sere. Ecology. 56(1): 19-34.  [15667]

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Regeneration Processes

Gray dogwood reproduces both sexually and asexually.  It begins
producing seed at about 4 to 5 years of age and produces an abundant
amount of seed every year.  Gray dogwood reproduces vegetatively by
sprouting from underground rhizomes [22,29].
  • 22.  Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern        Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire        Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p.  [20090]
  • 29.  Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minespoils in the        eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station. 190 p.  [15577]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

  
   Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Tree, Shrub

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Successional Status

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Facultative Seral Species

Gray dogwood is an early to mid-seral species [12,20].  It is most
common in understories of mixed, open forests and grows best in moderate
to full sunlight [18].  In southwestern Wisconsin, aboveground growth
rates of gray dogwood were greater in open habitats than in forest
understories [12].
  • 12.  Harrington, Robin A.; Brown, Becky J.; Reich, Peter B. 1989. Ecophysiol.        of exotic & native shrubs in s. WI. I. Rel. of leaf charac. resource        availability, & phenol. to seasonal patterns of carbon gain. Oecologia.        80: 356-367.  [9241]
  • 18.  Medve, Richard J. 1984. The mycorrhizae of pioneer species in disturbed        ecosystems of western Pennsylvania. American Journal of Botany. 71(6):        787-794.  [8544]
  • 20.  Olson, Jerry S. 1958. Rates of succession and soil changes on southern        Lake Michigan sand dunes. Botanical Gazette. 119(3): 125-170.  [10557]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

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Gray dogwood flowers from May through July, with fruits maturing from
August through October [4,14].  Leaves emerge in early April and abscise
in late October [13].
  • 4.  Chapman, William K.; Bessette, Alan E. 1990. Trees and shrubs of the        Adirondacks. Utica, NY: North Country Books, Inc. 131 p.  [12766]
  • 13.  Harrington, Robin A.; Brown, Becky J.; Reich, Peter B. 1989. Ecophysiol.        of exotic & native shrubs in s. WI. I. Rel. of leaf charac. resource        availability, & phenol. to seasonal patterns of carbon gain. Oecologia.        80: 356-367.  [9241]
  • 14.  Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock,        AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p.  [21266]

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Reproduction

Sexual reproduction: These dogwoods probably reach sexual maturity in three to four years. There is one viable seed per drupe in all four species (Stephens 1973). A complex of hybrids exists between C. drummondii, C. racemosa (C. foemina subsp. racemosa) and C. foemina (subsp. foemina). The hybrids have high pollen viability, robust growth, and fruit sometimes larger and more plentiful than that of the parent (Wilson 1965).

Seed dispersal: Seeds are dispersed by a variety of birds, including crows, vireos, redheaded woodpeckers and bluebirds (Ridley 1930), autumn through winter (Stephens 1973). Availability of perching sites may be important in dispersal. Smith (1975) included C. racemosa in his study of re-vegetation of forest openings, and found that most seeds were deposited by birds within 25 meters of the seed source, often in the shade near perching sites. About 25% of the dispersed seeds left the study area after consumption by long-distance flying birds.

Germination: Germination usually occurs in the spring following seed production and dispersal to a favorable site, but may be delayed a year due to a dormant embryo, hard pericarp (Brinkman 1974), and possible chemical inhibition by the pulp (Goodwin 1948). Mechanical and chemical scarification and stratification techniques are used commercially to stimulate germination in dogwood (Brinkman 1974). C. racemosa and C. stolonifera are described by Krefting and Roe (1949) as having "double dormancy", or requiring two periods of stratification for germination. C. stolonifera seeds that were treated first with acids then with cold stratification experienced almost 100% germination, whereas germination was much lower for those seeds receiving cold treatment only. However, seeds of both species that were twice stratified by passage through quail or pheasant gut plus cold treatment also gave relatively low percent germination. The authors suggested that this was due to a large amount of variability in the extent of scarification from the bird gizzards. Some seeds are injured or overstratified in the bird gut and some are left unscathed or understratified (Krefting and Roe 1949). Smith (1975) described C. racemosa as fruiting abundantly but having very low germinability, depending instead on vegetative reproduction to enhance its propagation. Germination tests of scarified and stratified C. drummondii seeds have shown a 25% germination in three samples after 50 days (Brinkman 1974).

Seedling establishment: Some Cornus spp. shrub seedlings are tolerant of variable light intensities, and may become established in woodland edges, within woods, or in open areas (Gatherum et al. 1963, Smith 1975). Seedlings may invade grasslands alone or with other woody plants (McClain pers. comm.).

Asexual reproduction: C. drummondii, C. racemosa, C. stolonifera and C. obliqua reproduce most successfully by vegetative growth following seedling establishment. Thickets may expand by adventitious underground shoot growth or rhizomatous growth (Stephens 1973, Wilson 1965, Smith 1975).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cornus racemosa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cornus racemosa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Comments: Cornus spp. are natural early successional components of many woodland ecosystems in North America. They have many adaptions that enable them to take advantage of open areas, including a large number of seeds, vigorous seedlings and rapid subsequent growth, dispersal by birds, and high tolerance to adverse conditions such as drought and shade (Smith 1975, citing Auclair and Cottam 1971). Rapid and extensive cloning by rhizomatous growth allows dogwood species to create dense thickets which crowd out desired grasses, sedges and forbs, and alter wildlife habitat. Invasion of dogwood, along with other woody species, into prairies and wetlands became more extensive mainly due to the post-settlement decline in wildfires.

Woody plant invasion of floodplains is a concern in some areas, particularly in the western U.S., where stream diversion has greatly reduced the flow in rivers. Water diversion can reduce river flow to the extent that dogwoods and other woody plants invade the floodplain, reducing river channel width and drastically altering wildlife habitat. For example, woody plant invasion, including C. drummondii, willows (Salix spp.), green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), has reduced channel area of the Platte River in Nebraska by 50-85%, resulting in a loss of up to 97% of the roosting habitat for sandhill and whooping cranes and many other migratory birds (Currier 1987).

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Pests and potential problems

There are currently no serious pests of gray dogwood.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

No cultivars are available at this time, however common seedlings are available at most commercial hardwood nurseries.

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Dogwoods used on streambanks are subject to mechanical damage. The site should be inspected annually for needed repairs in the spring after heavy runoff or ice floes. Fill in gaps by replanting or by laying down and covering branches of nearby plants. Any mechanical measures used to control the bank, such as riprap, must be kept in repair to maintain effective protection.

Competing vegetation should be controlled around all dogwood plants used for hedges, screens, etc. This is particularly important during the first few years after planting.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

This shrub prefers partial to full sun and moist to mesic conditions; it tolerates a wide range of soil types, including soil that is loamy and rocky.
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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: cover

In Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois, gray dogwood is one of the most
important forage plants for white-tailed deer [5,19,24].  The seeds and
buds are a favorite food for ring-necked pheasant and northern bobwhite
in southern Michigan [28].

Gray dogwood thickets provide cover for a variety of birds and mammals
[2,6,14].
  • 2.  Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Cornus L.  dogwood. In: Schopmeyer, C. S.,        technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.        Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service: 336-342.  [7593]
  • 5.  Dalke, Paul D. 1941. The use and availability of the more common winter        deer browse plants in the Missouri Ozarks. Transactions, 6th North        American Wildlife Conference. 6: 155-160.  [17044]
  • 6.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]
  • 14.  Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock,        AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p.  [21266]
  • 19.  Nixon, Charles M.; McClain, Milford W.; Russell, Kenneth R. 1970. Deer        food habits and range characteristics in Ohio. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 34(4): 870-886.  [16398]
  • 24.  Strole, Todd A.; Anderson, Roger C. 1992. White-tailed deer browsing:        species preferences and implications for central Illinois forests.        Natural Areas Journal. 12(3): 139-144.  [19494]
  • 28.  Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States,        their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 362 p.  [4240]

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Other uses and values

Gray dogwood has been planted for ornamental purposes because of its
showy flowers, fruits, and attractive fall coloring [2].
  • 2.  Brinkman, Kenneth A. 1974. Cornus L.  dogwood. In: Schopmeyer, C. S.,        technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.        Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service: 336-342.  [7593]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Gray dogwood is well adapted for revegetating disturbed sites.  It is
easily established by direct seedling and grows rapidly [11,29].  It has
been successfully planted for revegetating highway corridors in Wisconsin
and coal mine spoils in the eastern United States [11,28,29].
  • 11.  Harrington, John A. 1989. Major prairie planting on highway corridor to        test methods, value of resulting vegetation (Wisconsin). Restoration and        Management Notes. 7(1): 31-32.  [8069]
  • 28.  Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States,        their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 362 p.  [4240]
  • 29.  Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minespoils in the        eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest        Experiment Station. 190 p.  [15577]

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Uses

Gray dogwood is useful as a low-growing wild hedge which provides summer food and some cover for small animals and birds.

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Wikipedia

Cornus racemosa

Cornus racemosa (northern swamp dogwood, gray dogwood or panicle dogwood) is a shrubby plant native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is a member of the dogwood genus Cornus and the family Cornaceae.

Plants can produce many stems and suckers, with older stems, which can reach 5 metres (16 ft) in height, having distinctive gray bark. The plant grows upright with a rounded habit and oppositely arranged leaves and terminally born flowers. The white flowers are small, with four petals, and clustered together in rounded, 2-inch-wide (51 mm) clusters called cymose panicles, produced in May and early June. After flowering, green fruits are produced that turn white in late summer. The white fruits, or drupes, are attached to the plant by bright red pedicels. Many species of birds feed on the fruits. Old branches grow slowly, while new stems are fast growing. In the fall the foliage can take on a reddish or purplish color, though it is not overly showy from a distance.

A synonymous name for the species is Swida racemosa.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Sometimes included in Cornus foemina as C. foemina ssp. racemosa; Kartesz (1994 checklist and 1999 floristic synthesis) treats as a distinct species, as do many authors.

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Common Names

gray dogwood
grey dogwood
gray-stemmed dogwood
panicled dogwood

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The currently accepted scientific name of gray dogwood is Cornus
racemosa Lam. [16]. Some authorities consider C. racemosa a subspecies
of Cornus foemina [8,10]. Little [17], however, considers it a distinct
species.
  • 17.  Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native        and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p.  [2952]
  • 10.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]
  • 16.  Landin, Mary C. 1979. The importance of wetlands in the north central        and northeast United States to non-game birds. In: DeGraaf, Richard M.;        Evans, Keith E., compilers. Management of north central and northeastern        forests for nongame birds: Proceedings of the workshop; 1979 January        23-25; Minneapolis, MN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-51. St. Paul, MN: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest        Experiment Station: 179-188.  [18087]
  • 8.  Gill, David S.; Marks, P. L. 1991. Tree and shrub seedling colonization        of old fields in central New York. Ecological Monographs. 61(2):        183-205.  [14486]

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Synonyms

Cornus foemina ssp. racemosa

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