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Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood)
Reveal, James L.

Cornus racemosa

Cornus racemosa Lam.

Gray Dogwood

Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Synonym(s): Cornus foemina ssp. racemosa, Cornus paniculata

USDA Symbol: cora6

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Gray dogwood is a thicket-forming, deciduous shrub to 16 ft. in height with greenish-white blossoms in open, terminal clusters. Young twigs are reddish and the fruit pedicels remain conspicuously red into late fall and early winter. Fruit itself is a white, 1/4 in. drupe that usually does not remain on the shrub for long.

The fruit of this dogwood is eaten by birds and other wildlife.

The genus cornus is Latin for a horn.


From the Image Gallery

32 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 16 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: White, red stems

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


USA: AR , CT , DE , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , SD , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , ON , QC
Native Distribution: ME to Ont. & Man., s. to SC & AR
Native Habitat: Thickets; river bank woods; wet to dry, low, open areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Will adapt to drier sites. Used in erosion control and for wildlife habitat. Resistant to most diseases, insects and physiological problems.


Use Wildlife: Fruit eaten by birds and other wildlife. Used by many bird species including Northern Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Eastern Bluebird.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Spring Azure

Value to Beneficial Insects

Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Spring Azure
(Celastrina "ladon" )

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow seeds immediately after collection or scarify and stratify and sow the following spring. Cornus spp. will root from softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer, hardwood cuttings in winter, and suckers and division and by layering in the early
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plant identfication
October 21, 2009
Hi...Can you please identfy the tall, evergreen shrub with purple plum-colored foliage that I have noticed in winter locally?...Hope so, need he color! THX
view the full question and answer

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 on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cornus racemosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cornus racemosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cornus racemosa


Record Modified: 2022-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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