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Cornus drummondii is often confused with:
Cornus alternifolia Cornus alternifolia
Native alternative(s) for Cornus drummondii:
Cornus florida Cornus florida
Cornus racemosa Close up of flowers
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Cornus alba Cornus alba
Hamamelis virginiana Leaves
Cornus officinalis leaves and flowers

Cornel Dogwood Cornus drummondii

Previously known as:

  • Cornus priceae
  • Swida priceae
Phonetic Spelling
KOR-nus drum-AWN-dee-eye
Description

Roughleaf Dogwood is a deciduous large shrub or small tree usually growing up to 16 feet tall and 16 feet wide. The plant may be easily recognized by its rough upper leaf surfaces, small creamy-white flowers, white fruits, and purplish-red foliage in the fall. It forms a dense thicket and has been used as a hedge, border, or screen. Wildlife is attracted to this plant as a form of shelter and as a food source. It is a member of the Cornaceae or Dogwood Family.

It is native to Southeast Canada and the Central and East-Central parts of the United States. Their habitats include rocky woodlands, floodplain woodlands, prairies, thickets, and woods near rivers and streams.

The genus name, Cornus, is Latin from the word, cornu which means "horn." This is in reference to the hardness of the wood. The species name, drummondii, references Thomas Drummond. He was an 18th-century botanist from Scotland. He came to the United States in 1830 to collect specimens of plants from the western and southern United States.

The Roughleaf Dogwood may be grown in full sun to partial shade with average medium to wet soils. It is an adaptable plant and has been found in wet and dry conditions and is poor soil tolerant. The plant grows quickly and develops suckers. It will require pruning to develop a strong structure. The shrub or tree can be propagated from seeds, softwood cuttings, hardwood cuttings, suckers, division, and layering.

The tree has gray bark and the stems are reddish-brown. The leaves are green, rough, and hairy. The flowers bloom in the spring and are creamy-white clusters on the ends of the branches. In the late summer and fall, showy white drupes appear. The fall foliage is showy and eye-catching purplish-red.

The Roughleaf Dogwood attracts butterflies, bees, and moths for the nectar of their flowers. The fruits attract many songbirds and small mammals. Deer and Elk may also browse the leaves. Some birds nest in the thickets of this shrub. 

Because this plant grows so quickly and suckers, it may be best used in naturalized areas versus a lawn or garden setting. It may also help stabilize banks and provide erosion control. The Roughleaf Dogwood will attract much wildlife as a source of food and shelter and add interest to a naturalized area. 

Seasons of Interest: 

Foliage:  Fall   Bloom:  Spring and Early Summer    Fruit:  Late Summer and Fall   Bark and Twigs:  Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • shrub or tree forms a dense thicket
  • green, rough, and hairy upper leaf surfaces and  lighter green, soft hairs on the undersides
  • purple fall foliage
  • creamy white flowers arranged in cymes in the spring
  • fruits are white drupes late summer and fall
  • spreads by root sprouts

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems: The tree or shrub has no serious insect or disease problems. They may be susceptible to leaf spot, twig blight, leaf blight, and canker. Pests may include beetles, mites, leaf miners, borers, and scale.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#white flowers#deciduous shrub#fall interest#flowering tree#hedges#privacy#flowering shrub#deer resistant#drupes#screening#naturalized area#flowers late spring#flowers early summer#white fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#shrub borders#woodland garden#food source birds#wildlife food source
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#white flowers#deciduous shrub#fall interest#flowering tree#hedges#privacy#flowering shrub#deer resistant#drupes#screening#naturalized area#flowers late spring#flowers early summer#white fruits#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#shrub borders#woodland garden#food source birds#wildlife food source
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    drummondii
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Layering
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeast Canada to Central and East Central U.S.A.
    Distribution:
    Native: Canada--Ontario; US--AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NY, OH, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, and WI; Introduced: VA
    Wildlife Value:
    Butterflies are attracted to the flowers, and birds are attracted to the fruits. The tree provides cover for wildlife. Some small birds use the tree for nesting in thickets.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 16 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Dense
    Oval
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are fleshy round white drupes that measure about 0.25 inches in diameter. Each drupe contains a stone. The drupes are a food source, and they attract birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and black bears.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers bloom from April to June for about 2-3 weeks. They appear in clusters at the ends of branches. Each cyme measures about 2 to 4 inches across. The flower is four-petaled, creamy-white. Each flower measures about 0.25 inches across.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Velvety
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are green, simple, ovate to elliptical with entire margins. They measure 4 to 8 inches long and 2-4 inches wide. The upper surface of the leaf is rough and hairy. The lower surface is a lighter green and softly pubescent. The leaves turn purplish-red in the fall.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The trunk has gray bark and is covered with rough, flat scales. The branches are thin and gray with small bumps.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The young branchlets and twigs are green to reddish-brown and pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Erosion
    Poor Soil