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Cornus

 

Dogwood

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderCornalesIncludes dogwoods, hydrangeas, stickleafs, tupelos, even sillyberries
FamilyCornaceaeDogwood family
GenusCornusLatin for “a horn”

About plant names...

The Cornus genus includes dogwoods, shrubs or small trees, as well as bunchberry, only a few inches tall—30-60 species in all, many native to North America. Dogwoods of one species or another are found throughout the continent.

Nobody is entirely certain why it is that dogwoods first came to be known as “dog-trees” in mid-1500s English. “Dog-tree” may not even be the origin of the modern name, which may derive instead from “dagtree,” since its very hard stems were used to make “dags”: daggers, arrows, and skewers.[1]

Identification: Dogwoods have simple leaves with smooth edges, opposite leaves (with the exception of C. alternifolia), and veins which run parallel to the leaf edges. Dogwood flowers are white with four showy petals that are actually bracts—the actual flowers are small and inconspicuous.

Here are some dogwoods:

 

Cornus (Dogwood)

(Cornus) · 6/17/2012 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm) Species not yet identified

Cornus (Dogwood)

(Cornus) · 6/17/2012 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm) Species not yet identified

 
Cornus alba ‘Bailhalo’

Cornus alternifolia f.

Cornus canadensis
Common Name

Siberian Dogwood

Pagoda Dogwood

Bunchberry
Plant 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) around. This is the tallest and most tree-like of the native dogwoods, reaching 25' (7.6 m) in height. Branches are arranged in horizontal layers with intervening gaps, leading to the common name “pagoda dogwood.” While this horizontal layering is present in most dogwoods, it is more pronounced in this one. Often only three inches high, sometimes forming nearly continuous mats on the forest floor, bunchberry rarely exceeds 8" (20 cm).
Flowers White (or yellow-white) blooms appear on growth that is at least 2-3 years old between May and June. Yellowish-white clusters of 4-petaled flowers. Four white “flower petals” are really bracts—modified leaves. They surround the real flowers, a tiny cluster of greenish flowers.
Leaves Variegated leaves have uneven patches of white around their edges. Leaves are 2-4½" (5-11 cm) long, and turn purple-brown in the fall. Deeply veined, elliptical to oval in shape, 2-5" (5-12 cm) × 1-2" (2.5-5 cm), with veins that become almost parallel with the leaf edges as they approach them. Leaf undersides are glaucous: much paler than the tops. Leaves are alternate, not opposite. Alternating pairs of oval leaves.
Stem Deep red stems with small sparsely placed lenticels are prominent in the winter. Bark on younger branches is dark reddish (or purplish) brown, turning gray on older ones.  
Fruit   In clusters, purplish-black, ¼" (8.5 mm) in diameter. A densely packed group of bright red berries above the leaves.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-7

USDA Zones: 3-7

Habitats     Forest floors, bogs
Type Cultivar Wild Wild
Occurrence     Common

 

 
Cornus florida

Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa cv. ‘Milky Way’
Common Name

Flowering Dogwood

Kousa Dogwood

Kousa Dogwood
Plant Flowering dogwood is somewhere between a large bush, at a typical 15' (4.6 m) in height, and a small tree, at up to 30' (9.1 m). It has a single trunk and rounded crown typical of a tree. Kousa dogwood is a small tree up to 20' (6.1 m) in height, rarely reaching 30' (9.1 m). More vase-shaped at first, it matures into a rounded crown. Kousa dogwood is a small tree up to 20' (6.1 m) in height, rarely reaching 30' (9.1 m). More vase-shaped at first, it matures into a rounded crown. Produces more flowers and fruit than the wild tree.
Flowers Four white “petals” (really bracts) up to 4" (10 cm) across. (The real flowers are a small green inconspicuous disc in the center.) Showy white “flowers” about 3" (7.6 cm) wide. Actually, flowers are bracts: the true flowers are an inconspicuous disc of yellow-green florets in the center. They flower from June to early July. Showy white “flowers” about 3" (7.6 cm) wide. Actually, flowers are bracts: the true flowers are an inconspicuous disc of yellow-green florets in the center. They flower from June to early July.
Leaves Opposite, 4-8" (10-20 cm) long and half as wide, with smooth edges and prominent veins, turning red to deep reddish purple in the fall. 2-4" (5-10 cm) × ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm), elliptic to ovate in shape, with smooth edges and leaf veins that are nearly parallel to the edges. Dark green summer leaves turn red or purple in the fall. 2-4" (5-10 cm) × ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm), elliptic to ovate in shape, with smooth edges and leaf veins that are nearly parallel to the edges. Dark green summer leaves turn red or purple in the fall.
Stem Trunk bark separates into square blocks or scales about 1" (2.5 cm) across as the tree ages. Trunk develops unevenly-shaped peeling scales at maturity, producing varying coloration in the trunk resembling camoflage. Trunk develops unevenly-shaped peeling scales at maturity, producing varying coloration in the trunk resembling camoflage.
Fruit Fruits are bright red, oval, ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) long, in small tight clusters. Bumpy pink to dull red globes about ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) around. Fruits reach upward on the ends of branches unless the branches bend. Bumpy pink to dull red globes about ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) around. Fruits reach upward on the ends of branches unless the branches bend.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 5-9a

USDA Zones: 5-8

USDA Zones: 5a-8b
Habitats   Woods and scrub in Sichuan; valleys and shaded slopes.  
Type Wild Wild Cultivar

 

 
Cornus kousa subsp. kousa ‘Lustgarten Weeping’

Cornus obliqua

Cornus sericea ‘Silver and Gold’
Common Name

Dogwood

Narrowleaf Dogwood

Silver and Gold Red Osier Dogwood
Plant This weeping variety is closely related to C. kousa ‘Elizabeth Lustgarten’, producing arching branches 12-15' (3.7-4.6 m) up, sometimes cascading to the ground, with the tree reaching a width of about 10' (3 m). The shape is more domelike and shrublike than treelike. These dogwoods are multiply branched shrubs up to 12' (3.7 m) high.  
Flowers Showy white “flowers” about 3" (7.6 cm) wide. Actually, flowers are bracts: the true flowers are an inconspicuous disc of yellow-green florets in the center. They flower from June to early July. Flowers bloom from May to June, and are yellowish-white.  
Leaves   Opposite, deeply veined on the back, up to 4" (10 cm) × 1¼" (3.5 cm) in size, oval with pointed tips, somewhat narrower than other dogwood leaves. Deep red or maroon in the fall.  
Stem   Branch bark is highly variable in color: gray, brown, reddish brown, red, or yellow-brown. Young twigs have fine hairs; mature branches have vertical lenticels.  
Fruit Bumpy pink to dull red globes about ¾-1" (1.9-2.5 cm) around. Green to white to light blue to deep blue. Light blue berries have a metallic sheen.  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 5a-8b

USDA Zones: 4-8

USDA Zones: 3-8
Habitats   Moist, rich, slightly acidic soils such as swamps  
Type Cultivar Wild Cultivar

 

 
Cornus sericea ssp. sericea
Common Name

Red Osier Dogwood
Plant This deciduous shrub is 3-18' (91-548 cm) high, and about the same in width. It is extensively branched.
Flowers Small and white, 4-petaled, occurring in flat-topped groups.
Leaves 2-5" (5-12 cm) long and 1-2½" (2.5-6.3 cm) wide, oval, bright red in the fall.
Stem Stems are dark red when young, but fade to gray-green as they age, becoming red again in the fall.
Fruit Fruits are white or dull white berries, about ¼" (6.3 mm), on bright red stems.
Range/ Zones

Type Wild

 

Online References:

Cornus on Wikipedia

Cornus on the USDA Plants Database

Cornus on eNotes

References:

Eastman, John; illustrated by Hansen, Amelia, The Book of Forest and Thicket: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America, Stackpole Books, 1992, p. 69

Cornus (Dogwood)

(Cornus) · 6/16/2012 · Connie and Stan’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 14 × 13" (35 × 32 cm) Species not yet identified

1From the Wikipedia article

Cornus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Oct 2013.

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Cornus (Dogwood)

(Cornus) · 6/16/2012 · Connie and Stan’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm) Species not yet identified

Cornus (Dogwood)

Siberian Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Bailhalo’) · 6/26/2005 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME

Cornus (Dogwood)

Canadian Dwarf Cornel (Cornus canadensis) · 7/6/2012

Cornus (Dogwood)

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa cv. ‘Milky Way’) · 9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Cornus (Dogwood)

Silky Dogwood (Cornus obliqua) · 8/20/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Cornus (Dogwood)

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea) · 5/29/2010 · Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth, ME
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.8 × 6.6 cm) ID is uncertain