Gray dogwood is native to eastern North America. It shows up in borders, neglected areas,
and embankments, thriving in wet and dry conditions and sunny or shady sites.
Plants: Usually a thickly branched shrub 3-8' (91-243 cm) around, but
with pruning, some branches become trunks, and the plant can reach 16' (4.9 m). It spreads by
suckering, rather enthusiastically, as well as by seed.
Leaves: Medium green to gray green, opposite,
2-3½" (5-8.9 cm) × ¾-1¾" (1.9-4.4 cm),
narrowly elliptic or somewhat acuminate (sharp tipped), attached
by thin petioles (stems) up to ¾" (1.9 cm) long. Each leaf
has prominent veins that are roughly parallel to the leaf edges. Leaf edges may be wavy.
The upper leaf surface is medium
to dark green, while the lower is pale green, almost white, due to the presence of tiny, flattened hairs.
In the fall, leaves take on
attractive red or purple coloration.
Flowers: Tiny flowers form loose or tight domes up to 2½" (6.3 cm)
around. The florets are creamy white in color, about ¼" (6.3 mm) around, with four
elliptic petals forming a four-pointed star. Four tiny stamens emerge at angles from a
tiny yellow center, along with a single green-tipped style in the center.
Flowers appear from May to June, but flowering is only about a week long.
Fruits: Fruits are creamy white (rarely a pale blue), about ¼" (6.3 mm)
around, appearing on bright red stems in August and September.