Resources Glossary  
Key to Dogwood Shrub Species

  Dogwood shrubs are woody, much-branched plants.  Inflorescences are terminal at the tips of branches and branchlets.  Each inflorescence is many-flowered, round in cross-section, varying from flat topped, convex or round-topped to domed.  Flowers are small, four-petaled, each borne on a short pedicel, and are crowded within their inflorescence.  Branches are opposite for most species (alternate for Cornus alternifolia).

The fruit of a dogwood shrub is a drupe.  A drupe is a fleshy, more or less spherical fruit.  Drupes do not split open at maturity, as would a capsule.  Example:  peaches.  Typically, drupes contain a single, hard seed, which is often referred to as a "stone".  At maturity, cornus drupes are various shades of blue or white.

Leaves are simple, unlobed, undivided and untoothed; green above, pale whitish or grayish below.  Leaf veins are curved, not usually reaching the margins of the leaf.  

Compared with other shrub species flowering at the same time, dogwood flowers are not especially fragrant.

  1.  Branches are alternate.  Leaf tips are long-pointed
     (acuminate).  Drupes are blue-black. 
     [ Cornus alternifolia ]
  1.  Branches are opposite.  Leaf tips are short-pointed
     (acute).  Drupes are various shades of blue or white.    
  2.  Leaves are broadly ovate, with more than 6
     pairs of veins.  [ Cornus rugosa ]
  2.  Leaves are narrower, either ovate, narrowly ovate,
     elliptic or narrowly elliptic, with 3 to 6 pairs of veins.
  3.  Inflorescences are domed (peaked), as tall as 
     wide or nearly so.  Branches of prior seasons are
     gray to gray-brown.  Drupes are white.
     [ Cornus racemosa ]
  3.  Inflorescences are flat-topped or slightly convex,
     much wider than tall.  Branches of prior seasons
     are red-brown or bright red-purple.  Drupes are
     blue or white.
  4.  Tips of styles are conspicuously dilated,
     appearing "knobbed", approximately twice
      the diameter of the portion below.  Branches
     of prior seasons are dull red to red-brown.
     Pith is brown.  Drupes are blue.  Peduncles
     and pedicels are densely pubescent.
     [ Cornus amomum ]

  4.  Tips of styles are only slightly widened, if
      at all.  Diameter of style is more or less
      uniform. Branches of prior seasons are
      bright red-purple. Pith is white.  Drupes are
      white.  Peduncles and pedicels are sparsely
      pubescent.  [ Cornus sericea ]
Images & text copyright Arieh Tal, 1990 to 2023.  All rights reserved.