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Baugh, James C.
Cornus alternifolia L. f.
Alternateleaf dogwood, Alternate-leaf dogwood, Pagoda dogwood
Synonym(s): Swida alternifolia
USDA Symbol: coal2
Shrub or small tree with short trunk and flat-topped, spreading crown of long, horizontal branches. Alternate-leaf dogwood or pogoda dogwood is a deciduous shrub or small tree, 20-35 ft. tall, with decidedly horizontal branching. Branch ends are upturned. Bark and twigs are green to reddish-purple. Wide, flat-topped clusters of fragrant, white-cream flowers become clusters of reddish-purple berries. Fall foliage is a dull maroon.
Unlike all other native dogwoods, this species has alternate rather than opposite leaves. The name Pagoda Dogwood alludes to the flat-topped crown, with horizontal layers of branches. The bitter berrylike fruits of this and other dogwoods are consumed in quantities in fall and winter by wildlife.
The genus Cornus is Latin for a horn.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Dark Green Autumn Foliage:
Black, Blue Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun
, WV Canada: MB
, QC Native Distribution:
Nf. to MN
& s. Man., s. to n. FL, AL
& AR Native Habitat:
& mixed woods; rocky slopes; coastal plains; shrub
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Soil Description:
Cool, moist, acid, well-drained soils. Conditions Comments:
has infrequent disease and insect problems, however wind and ice damage are common. It is tolerant of poor soils and clay.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Attracts ground, water and songbirds and many mammals. The dry, bitter fruits are not edible by human standards, but they provide food for grouse, pheasants, wild turkeys and squirrels. (Kershaw)
Use Other: The roots, mixed with vinegar, yield a light to dark brown dye. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Spring Azure
Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings. The cuttings must not be disturbed until they have been allowed to go through a winter dormancy and have begun spring growth. Seed Collection:
Seeds mature inside blue-black fruit
in mid-summer. Seeds can be stored or sown without extracting them from the fruit. Commercially Avail:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEMt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2012-10-05
Research By: TWC Staff