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.
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.
Creamy white, small, 1 1/2"-2" wide, flat panicles of flowers
late May to early June.
White, rarely bluish white, 1/4" berries (drupes) ripening in August into September