Dogwoods

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

Red-osier - Cornus stolonifera
Kinnikinnik - C. amonum
Pale Dogwood - C. obliqua
Gray Dogwood - C. racemosa
Alternate-leaved Dogwood - C. alternifolia
Round-leaved Dogwood - C. rugosa

  Dogwood Family: Shrubs or small trees with deciduous, opposite, (except Alternate-leaved Dogwood) simple leaves with prominent leaf veins running parallel to the leaf tip. Flowers are whitish clusters, 2 to 3 inches in diameter and are flat or rounded.
  Form: Red-osier - Loose spreading, suckers freely, to 10 feet tall.
Kinnikinnik - Young shrubs rounded, older shrubs straggling and open, to 10 feet tall.
Pale - Young shrubs rounded, older shrubs straggling and open, 10 feet tall.
Gray - Slender shrubs that sucker profusely and spread readily, 15 feet tall.
Alternate-leaved - Shrub to 20 feet tall, open with branches forming layers or tiers.
Round-leaved - Course shrub to 10 feet tall.
  Bark and Twigs: Red-osier - Bright red or green twigs, white pith.
Kinnikinnik - Dull purple (reddish in winter), silky hairy twigs, brown pith.
Gray - Twigs gray to brown, pith brown.
Alternate-leaved - Greenish twigs, alternate, pith white.
Round-leaved - Green to reddish twigs with purple blotches.
  Leaves: Red-osier - Whitened beneath, purple to red fall color.
Kinnikinnik - Egg-shaped with rounded base, brown to reddish hairs on veins beneath, reddish purple fall.
Pale - Similar to Kinnikinnik but more narrow, tapering leaf bases, white hairy beneath, 2 times long as broad.
Gray - Whitened beneath, purplish in fall.
Alternate-leaved - 1 to 3 inch petioles, long tapering tips, leaves crowded at tip of twigs, reddish purple fall color.
Round-leaved - Wide egg-shaped to nearly round, woolly beneath.
  Flowers and Fruits: Red-osier - Flowers in small, white, flat-topped clusters in late May or June. Fruit white (Sept.).
Kinnikinnik - Flowers in small white flat-topped clusters covered with silky hairs, fruit bluish with white blotches.
Pale - Similar to Kinnikinnik.
Gray - Flowers in small (1 to 2 inch diameter) rounded clusters in late May or June, fruit white with showy red stalks that remain through late fall and early winter.
Alternate-leaved - Flowers in small whitish clusters that are flat-topped, bloom from May to June, very fragrant, fruit is blue-black with showy red stalks, waxy covered.
Round-leaved - Flowers in white flat-topped clusters from May to June, fruit is light blue (Aug. - Oct.).
West Virginia Range:
Red-osier - rare; Mineral, Monongalia, Ohio and Preston.
Kinnikinnik - Common in every county.
Pale - Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, McDowell, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Ritchie, Summers, and Upshur.
Gray - Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Miner, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, and Wetzel.
Alternate-leaved - Throughout West Virginia.
Round-leaved - Mineral and Pendleton.
Natural Habitat:
Red-osier - Streambanks and wet thickets.
Kinnikinnik - Swamps and damp thickets.
Pale - Swamps and moist thickets.
Gray - Moist or dry soils in old fields, thickets, and fencerows and forest margins.
Alternate-leaved - Thickets and open woods.
Round-leaved - Rocky, dry soil.
Wildlife Use:
Fruits are eaten by many songbirds such as cardinal, robin, thrushes, waxwing, catbird and chat. The fruit is mostly eaten prior to winter and thus is gone by the critical period in late winter and early spring. Game birds such as grouse, bobwhite, turkey, wood duck and woodcock readily eat the fruits, as do black bear, raccoon, woodchuck, squirrels, and chipmunk. Twigs and leaves are eaten by deer, rabbit, snowshoe hare, and beaver. Thickets of these shrubs are valuable for shelter and nesting sites.
Horticulture:
Uses: Borders, groups or massings, screens or specimen.
Light: Partial shade to open sun.
Soil Moisture: Most species will grow best in moist well-drained soils. Round-leaved and Pale will grow in wet or dry soils. Alternate-leaved prefers a range from moist to dry soils while Red-osier and Kinnikinnik prefer wetter soils.
Soil pH: Medium acid to neutral.
Problems: Most of these species are relatively free from major pests and diseases. Alternate-leaved is sometimes affected by twig blight and Kinnikinnik can be affected by scale insects.

Compiled by: William N. Grafton, naturalist, botanist and wildlife specialist, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core