Members of this genus vary from medium sized trees to small to medium sized shrubs. Some are valued for their flowers (more specifically their white or pink bracts), others for their fall foliage color, a few have showy fruit and still others for the bright red stems in the winter.

Dogwoods have basically three ways in which their flowers are arranged:

  • Cluster of twenty-five or more tiny flowers is surrounded by large bracts which look like petals but are actually modified leaves. - Cornus florida
  • Small flowers are borne on short stalks originating from the same point like the stays of an umbrella, to form a cluster or umbel. - Cornus mas
  • Small flowers are borne on stalks which have divided many times, forming a flat-topped, or occasionally pyramidal, cyme. - Cornus amomum

With the exception of C. alternifolia and C. controversa, dogwoods have opposite leaves and buds.

Cornus alba Tatarian Dogwood

C. alternifolia

Alternate Leaved Dogwood

C. amomum Silky Dogwood
C. x arnoldiana (Arnold Arboretum)
C. baileyi Bailey Dogwood
C. canadensis Bunchberry
C. capitata Evergreen Dogwood
C. chinensis Chinese Dogwood
C. controversa Giant Dogwood
C. coreana Korean Dogwood
C. florida Flowering Dogwood
C. kousa Kousa Dogwood
C. macrophylla Largeleaf Dogwood
C. mas Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
C. nuttailli  Pacific Dogwood
C. officinalis Japanese Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
C. racemosa Gray Dogwood
C. rugosa Roundleaf Dogwood
C. x rutgersensis Constellation Dogwood
C. sanguinea Bloodtwig Dogwood
C. sericea
(C. stolonifera)
Red Osier Dogwood
C. walteri Walter Dogwood

There is no clear origin for the common name, dogwood. One story is that it came from the fact that the berries were not fit for a dog to eat. The wood of some trees was used for skewers by butchers so the French word, dague, Spanish, daga or Sanskrit, dag, may have been involved.


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