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Dogwood, Gray Cornus racemosa

Gray Dogwood - Cornus racemosa
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With 2" creamy-white flowers and white-blush fruit, this native shrub is sure to attract many birds to your wildlife garden or yard. Reddish-brown stems turning a distinct gray are quite lovely. Grows 10'-15' in height with equal spread. Great for borders, groups, or masses. Has superb fall and winter attributes. Adaptable to many soils, full shade or sun.

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Zones 3 - 8 Zones 3 - 8
Hardiness Zones 3 - 8
The Gray Dogwood can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the zone map. View Map
Flowering Tree Flowering Tree
Type of tree
Flowering Trees, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs
10' - 15' High 10' - 15' High
Mature Height
The Gray Dogwood grows to be 10' - 15' feet in height.
10' - 15' Spread 10' - 15' Spread
Mature Spread
The Gray Dogwood has a spread of about 10' - 15' at full maturity.
Slow Growth Slow Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a slow growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
This dogwood does well in full sun, partial shade, full shade.
Various Soils Various Soils

The gray dogwood adapts to a wide range of soil conditions.

Irregular Shape Irregular Shape
This dogwood has irregular, rounded shape.

A tough, low maintenance shrub with subtle year-round beauty. White panicles of flowers in June are followed by white berries when removed expose reddish pink colored stalks. These persistant stalks will remain on red into late fall and early winter providing a colorful contrast to the gray bark. The gray dogwood is easily transplanted and very adaptable under all types of growing conditions. It is good for a screen or informal hedge, border, windbreak, embankments, naturalization, at the edge of water, and poor soil areas. Birds savor the fruit.


A dense, multi-stemmed, erect growing shrub with short, spreading branches. Suckers from the roots form a large colony extending in all directions. The suckers while useful for making the shrub denser will need to be removed annually once the shrub is as wide as you want it. The reddish brown young stems form a contrast to the older gray bark. The summer foliage is a dull gray-green to dark green turning in the fall to a mixture of green, red, and purple colors. The fall foliage is usually not showy. The panicles of white flowers bloom for 7-10 days starting in late spring. The white fruit matures in late summer or early fall and is inconsistently persistent. The shrub's best ornamental feature is the reddish pink color of the pedicels (fruiting stalks) that are exposed when the fruit falls. The red color persists into fall and winter. The shrub grows best in moist, well-drained soil in full sun, but is adaptable to adverse conditions including poor, dry, wet, and compacted soils, heat, drought, and heavy shade. It requires only a light pruning to produce a neat, dense, informal hedge. It can be renewed by cutting back to the ground when it becomes too large and woody. It is occasionally grown as a small tree where it can be used for foundations, entranceways, borders, or as a specimen.

Wildlife Value

The gray dogwood is a forage plant for white-tailed deer. The berries appear before most other dogwoods making it popular with the birds. Over 100 bird species and squirrels eat the fruit. It forms a dense thicket providing cover and nesting sites for wildlife habitat.


The gray dogwood is native to the eastern and midwestern United States and southern Canada. Cornus is the latin name for dogwood, and racemosa refers to the type of compound flower arrangement (raceme). Another common name is the panicled dogwood.


The gray dogwood prefers moist, well drained soil, but will grow in wet or dry soil.


The leaves are opposite, simple, narrow-elliptic to ovate-lanceolate, 2"-4" long, nearly smooth, grayish green to dark green in summer, reddish purple in fall.

Flower Color

Creamy white, small, 1 1/2"-2" wide, flat panicles of flowers

Bloom Time

late May to early June

Fruit Description

White, rarely bluish white, 1/4" berries (drupes) ripening in August into September