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Plant Description


Cornus alternifolia L.f.

En: alternateleaf dogwood, green osier, pagoda dogwood
Fr: cornouiller à feuilles alternes
Oj: moozwemizh, moozomizh

Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Cornus alternifoliaflpl Cornus alternifolialvs Cornus alternifoliainf Cornus alternifoliafrpl Cornus alternifoliafrt


The Genus Cornus: Woody Cornus (dogwood) species are medium to tall, deciduous shrubs, usually with opposite leaves and branches, except for Cornus alternifolia, which has alternate leaves. Dogwood leaves are broadly-elliptic with several pairs of parallel veins that curve towards the apex of the leaf (arcuate venation). The numerous small flowers have parts in multiples of four (4-merous) and are arranged in large, flat-topped inflorescences.

General: A tall shrub to small tree, 4–6 m tall. Twigs green to greenish-brown, smooth and shiny; pith slender, white; buds green to purplish, with 2–3 outer scales. The branches are arranged in horizontal layers and the ends of the branches curve upwards, reminiscent of the antlers of a stag.

Leaves: Alternate, crowded near the upcurved ends of the branches, simple, pinnately-veined, petiolate. Leaf blades oval to ovate, 4–13 cm long, 2–7.5 cm wide; dark green above, paler beneath and finely hairy; the base abruptly tapering to rounded; apex sharply pointed (acuminate); margins entire. Veins arranged in 5–6 pairs, curving towards the apex. Petiole 2–6 cm long.

Flowers: Bisexual, numerous, arranged in flat-topped clusters (cymes), 3–6 cm wide; flowers stalked. Calyx lobes 4, small; petals 4, creamy-white; stamens 4; the single pistil with an inferior ovary. Flowers bloom in early summer.

Fruit: a small ovoid to spherical, dark blue drupe, with a whitish coating (glaucous); to 6 mm long; fruiting stalks (pedicels) red. Fruits mature in late summer.

Habitat and Range: dry woods, rocky slopes, ravine slopes. The alternateleaf dogwood is a temperate, eastern North American species that occurs throughout southern and eastern Ontario; in northern Ontario it occurs most frequently along the eastern and western shores of Lake Superior and is restricted to below 49°N (Soper and Heimburger 1982).

Internet Images: The Cornus alternifolia webpage from the Trees of Wisconsin website. Click on the smaller images to view larger, more detailed photos.

The Cornus alternifolia webpage from the Virginia Tech Dendrology website.

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