Gray dogwood nature

Gray dogwood nature

Gray dogwood

Gray dogwood is a very adaptable, native shrub that is excellent for naturalizing, especially in difficult sites, such as pond and stream banks. Although its suckering and spreading habit makes it impractical for formal plantings, it can be incorporated into the shrub border and useful as a mass planting. Creamy white clusters of flowers in May are followed by white berries in late summer that are quickly eaten by birds.


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. Gray dogwood has round-topped clusters of creamy white flowers borne on red pedicels. The flowers mature to white fruits in the late summer. The pith of the twig is white. The leaves have fewer lateral veins (3-4 pairs) than other dogwood species. Gray dogwood tolerates a broad range of soils and suckers readily to form multi-stemmed stands of shrubs, making it a useful natural hedge. The flowers attract butterflies and the unusual white fruits draw in birds.

Stiff dogwood (ssp. foemina) has leaves whose undersides are lighter green than the uppersides, but not appearning pale or whitish; the young twigs are reddish brown, the bark rather smooth; flower clusters fairly flat-topped; and fruits light blue or blue-and-white mottled. It lives mainly only in Bootheel swamps and nearby southeastern Ozarks. The bright blue fruits and brown branches are quite attractive. Gray dogwood is a native shrub that is a natural component of many woodland and prairie communities. Eradication of this plant is not practical nor desirable. Managers who are concerned by the abundance of gray dogwood on a particular managed area should determine the desired abundance of the shrub on the site before setting goals for control. A sequence of historical aerial photos can be helpful in confirming or refuting the belief that this shrub is increasing coverage at the expense of prairie ground cover on a given site. Knowledge of appropriate levels of shrub cover will allow informed decisions regarding the need for control. (Source: mdc.mo.gov)


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