ALTERNATE-LEAF DOGWOOD - CORNUS ALTERNIFOLIA

alternate-leaf dogwood fruit

Common Name: alternate-leaf dogwood, pagoda dogwood

Scientific Name: 
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Species: alternifolia

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 15 to 25 ft
Width: 20 to 30 ft

Description: ​Alternate leaf dogwood is also known as pagoda dogwood for its tiered horizontal branching. It is used as an ornamental shrub or small tree. Its green, red, or purple branches form a distinctive flat topped crown accompanied by a spreading horizontal branch architecture.  The older parts of the plant, such as the trunk, are mostly smooth and light brownish-green. Its flowers are fragrant and light yellow to cream colored.  The flowers are a nectar source for the Spring Azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon ) which also utilize the plant's flower buds as a host site for its larva.  After flowering, the dogwood will produce pea-sized fruits in clusters that are either green or bluish-black depending on the time of year.  The fruit is bitter and enjoyed by a variety of native wildlife such as birds, bears, squirrels, pheasants, wild turkey, and grouse.  The buds of the plant, alternately arranged, are purple and slightly fuzzy/hairy. 

alternate-leaf dogwood fruit
alternate-leaf dogwood foliage
alternate-leaf dogwood bark
alternate-leaf dogwood foliage
alternate-leaf dogwood form
alternate-leaf dogwood fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

The native distribution of the plant is mainly in the northeastern and upper mid-western United States stretching north into southern Canada. It is in deciduous and mixed forests where it inhabits understory and border areas. It is also said to inhabit floodplains, cedar swamps, and the banks and thickets above lakes and streams (Schultz).  It happily grows in shaded and partially shaded areas in moist well drained acidic soil, though will tolerate a range of soil conditions.

​This species is propagated by seed or softwood cuttings. Cuttings will be most successful if left undisturbed through a winter dormancy period. If propagating by seed, a 2-3 month cold stratification is recommended after removal of the fleshy seed coat (Schultz).  

References:
BAMONA (Butterflies and Moths of North America) Found Online: <http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Celastrina-ladon>

Schultz, Jan. USDA Forest Service.  Found Online:  <http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org/Network/ViewProtocols.aspx?ProtocolID=...