Flowering Dogwood Trees and Shrubs: Types, Leaves, Bark – Identification (With Pictures)

Dogwoods are lovely deciduous trees and shrubs with distinct blossoms, berries, bark, and leaves. The majority of dogwood species are fast-growing attractive trees that make for beautiful garden settings. Since they are small shrubby multi-stemmed plants, some dogwoods appear to be shrubs. Flowering dogwood trees, which can be found in residential gardens all year, thrive in full sun.

The most common and spectacular types of dogwood trees and shrubs are covered in this article. The greatest dogwoods for growing in your yard can be identified by descriptions and photographs.

Flowering Dogwood Trees

Little to medium-sized dogwood trees bloom during the season. Flowering dogwood trees, also known as flowering cornel trees, are a perennial woody plant species that belongs to the Cornus genus. When they bloom in spring, dogwood trees burst into life with clusters of flowers. White dogwood blooms are common, but yellow, light red, or pink blooms may be seen in certain species.

Dogwood trees range in size from tiny to medium-sized and grow between 10 and 25 feet (3 and 7.6 meters) tall. Single-trunk lovely trees with white spring blooms and green summer foliage that turn reddish-purple in the autumn are the most popular types of flowering trees. Dogwood trees have a unique bark that makes them easy to recognize. The growth rate of flowering dogwood trees is high. Dogwoods reach their full height in 10 years and grow up to 1 foot (30 cm) per year.

Plant dogwood trees in partial or full sun to ensure they grow. Dogwoods bloom every spring and need consistently damp soil. Small ornamental trees thrive in partial shade, but if you water them frequently, they will flourish in full sun. The fact that flowering dogwood trees are low-maintenance garden trees is one of the reasons they’re so popular.

The crown of most dogwood species is rounded or flat, and pruning is not required. You only need to water the big shrubs or little trees on scorching summer days after they’ve established.

Dogwood Leaves

The elongated oval shape, visible curving veins, and smooth edges of dogwood tree leaves make them appear bright scarlet in the fall. Simple tree leaves with an opposite arrangement on stems are what dogwood leaves are classified as. Dogwood leaves, on the other hand, alternate in some species. The elongated rounded shape tapers to a point, and dogwood leaves are 2″ to 4″ (5 – 10 cm) long.

Dogwood Bark

Dogwood bark is scaly and peels off easily, giving it a scaly appearance. One of the distinguishing characteristics of flowering dogwood bark is its Bark. The gray-brown bark of many dogwoods has an unusual pattern that resembles alligator skin. One of the dogwoods’ attractive features in a winter garden setting is its bark.

Dogwood Flowers 

White flowers are most common, however pink or yellow flowers are also possible. Pink and yellow blooms are seen on some dogwood varieties. Little yellowish-green inconspicuous flowers are grouped by big white petal-like bracts in some dogwood types.

The petal clusters of other dogwood varieties are bigger and more open. Between March and May, the dogwood trees are in full bloom. The dazzling shade tree is created by the masses of white blossoms contrasted by light green leaves.

Dogwood Berries

Dogwood berry

Dogwood berries are an edible fruit. Fruits of Cornus mas, C. C. alba sibirica C. kousa and C. Dogwoods (sanguinea) produce a variety of colors, forms, and sizes of berry-like fruit. Dogwood berries growing in tight clusters resemble bright scarlet-red grape-like fruits. Purple-black or white are other options.

Several dogwood species contain poisonous berry-like drupe, while others are edible. You shouldn’t eat the drupes if you have a dogwood tree in your yard that you aren’t sure of its species. Dogwood trees’ “berries” attract birds and small mammals.

Dogwood Identification

Due to their bark, smooth oval leaves, and white flower clusters, dogwood trees are easy to identify. Dogwood trees have a tough, grayish bark that resembles alligator skin and can be easily identified. Next, check to see if the leaves have smooth edges and a sharp tip. They should be elongated oval forms. Curved veins on dogwood leaves are also easier to see.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

The species Cornus florida is known as flowering dogwood, which blooms in the spring. Greenish-yellow clusters of flowers are surrounded by huge, broad, rounded white petals that are really bracts (modifies leaves) on the flowering dogwood tree. The blossoming tree becomes even more appealing when several species of trees produce pinkish or crimson petals.

Red inedible fruits develop after the flowers have bloomed. The flowering dogwood tree, which grows between 10 and 30 feet (5 and 10 meters), is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree.

The flat, somewhat rounded crown of this dogwood species is a distinguishing characteristic. The crown’s reach is usually broader than the tree’s height. USDA zones 5 through 9 are ideal for flowering dogwoods. The dogwood is a stunning tree in backyards when masses of flowers bloom throughout April and May.

The most attractive of all the native North American blooming trees, according to many individuals, is flowering dogwoods. The state trees of Virginia and Missouri are the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).

Dogwood bark: The dark brown or gray bark of a flowering dogwood tree has square patterns with deep ridges. The scaly appearance of dogwood bark is unmistakable.

Dogwood leaves: The oval-shaped flowering dogwood tree leaves have thin veins that are visible. This dogwood species has alternate leaf growth on its leaves.

Kousa Dogwood / Japanese Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

The Kousa dogwood tree, a little to medium blooming shade tree that sheds multitudes of big white star-shaped flowers in the spring, is native to Japan. The dense green leaves of the Kousa dogwood turn brilliant crimson in the autumn, when they are full. The appealing smooth exfoliating bark of this tree, which changes from brown to tan and gray in the winter, is its visual appeal.

Japanese dogwood or Chinese dogwood are two other names for the Kousa dogwood tree. The little-medium tree grows to be around 15 to 30 feet (4.5 to 10 meters) tall. The desirable rounded crown of oval, pointed leaves is created by horizontal branching. In the autumn, the green leaves take on a vivid scarlet color.

A variegated dogwood with brilliant yellow and green hues, the Cornus kousa ‘Greensleeves’ is a popular choice. A gorgeous ornamental tree with a drooping growth habit is the Kousa dogwood, also known as the ‘Lustgarten Weeping.’

Dogwood bark: The bark of the kousa dogwood tree is thin and glossy, with small, jagged pores that peel to produce a speckled look.

Dogwood leaves: The dark green, elliptic-ovate-shaped leaves of the kousa dogwood tree grow up to 4″ (10 cm) long and broad. On branches, the leaves grow in an alternating pattern.

Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ and Pagoda dogwood blooms are large multi-stemmed shrubs or small trees. Pagoda dogwoods grow flowerheads with little creamy-white flowers. The layered horizontal branches with upturned tips are a unique characteristic of the pagoda dogwood species.

Little black drupes with crimson stalks emerge after the bloom. The pagoda dogwood can grow to be 25 feet (7.6 meters) tall. The crown of mature pagoda dogwoods is flat-topped. Best in partial shade to full sun, with a well-drained soil and frequent watering, the flowering multi-stemmed pagoda dogwood shrub or small tree thrives.

Dogwood bark: As it grows, Pagoda dogwood bark becomes brownish-gray and develops shallow vertical ridges.

Dogwood leaves: Pagoda dogwood leaves have intricate veins that run to the smooth margins of the leaves. The gorgeous, big leaves change color in the autumn to golden yellow.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)

The Cornelian cherry dogwood tree is a tiny flowering tree or shrub with green oblong leaves and red berries that grows to be about three meters in height. The Cornelian cherry dogwood has modest spring blooms when compared to other types of dogwood.

The dogwood, on the other hand, blooms in late winter, producing clusters of yellow flowers before the leaves come out. Cornelian cherry dogwood grows to be 16 to 40 feet (5 – 12 meters) tall and is also known as the European cornel dogwood. Cornelian cherry dogwoods make excellent flowering hedge plants or screens if they’re grown as a huge shrub.

Red edible fruits appear after the tiny yellow flowers have finished blooming. The drupes look like cherries, despite their resemblance to large berries.

Dogwood bark: The velvety, scaly bark of the Cornelian cherry dogwood peels to form orange and brown designs.

Dogwood leaves: The oblong shape of Cornelian cherry dogwood leaves grows up to 5 inches (12 cm) long. In the autumn, the dark green leaves turn a rich purple.

Mountain Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)

Mountain dogwood is a medium-sized flowering tree with broad oval leaves that produces huge star-shaped blooms. It is a young tree. The rounded crown of the small- to medium-sized dogwood tree is appealing throughout the year.

Mountain dogwood is covered in white flowers in the spring, dark green leaves in the summer, and spectacular orange and red hues in the fall. Mountain dogwood trees may grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall. Coniferous and mixed coastal woods are usually home to these deciduous trees.

The lovely dogwood, on the other hand, is a favorite specimen tree in garden settings. The western United States is home to mountain dogwood trees, which are cousins of the Cornus florida tree.

Dogwood bark: Mountain dogwood tree bark is grey with white patches and is smooth. In some areas, the exfoliating bark has peeled away.

Dogwood leaves: Large, elongated oval, glossy green leaves with prominent veins characterize mountain dogwood tree leaves. On stems, the modest leaves grow in pairs.

Giant Dogwood (Cornus controversa)

Medium-sized deciduous trees with a rounded growth habit, giant dogwood (Cornus controversa) trees are common. Creamy-white blooms and big ovate glossy green leaves develop on horizontally-growing branches. These giant dogwood trees have a 40-foot (12-meter) height and a comparable spread.

Dogwood bark: Greenish-brown or gray dogwood tree bark has a smooth feel and shallow veins.

Dogwood leaves: Leaves up to 6 inches (15 cm) long can be seen on a giant dogwood tree. Giant dogwood stems have alternate arrangement of leaves.

Wedding Cake Tree — Giant Dogwood (Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’)

The variegated giant dogwood tree is one of the most beautiful dogwood trees for gardens, and it can be found in Cornus controversa ‘Variegata. A thin stem with a spreading rounded canopy of layered branches characterize the single-stemmed tree. Showy white blooms bloom in the spring, giving a striking floral display.

Light green ovate leaves with creamy-white margins The tiny dogwood species tree, which grows up to 25 feet (8 meters) tall, is smaller than the gigantic dogwood species tree.

Dogwood bark: The smooth greenish-gray bark with shallow grooves of the wedding cake tree.

The bark of a small wedding tree is white.

Dogwood leaves: The ovate-oblong wedding cake tree leaves have cream-colored borders and dark green centers. The wrinkles on these dogwood leaves are particularly pronounced.

Leaves and flowers of a wedding cake tree

Evergreen Dogwood (Cornus capitata)

The evergreen dogwood tree, which grows up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall, is an attractive plant with flowers. The Himalayan strawberry-tree, also known as the Himalayan dogwood, is distinguished by its evergreen foliage in warm regions. In the spring and summer, the fragrant creamy-white blooms bloom.

Evergreen dogwoods produce delicious, edible red berry-like fruits after blooming. Evergreen dogwood tree has brown-gray bark with thin scales. Dogwood bark is evergreen.

Dogwood leaves: In the fall, evergreen dogwood leaves become reddish, which is their green color. They’re arranged in opposing pairs and are ovate to lanceolate, 3–4.7″ (8–12 cm) long.

Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii)

The young tree of roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) has dark green oblong leaves and white summer flower clusters. The leaves have a rough surface on the upper side and a hairy underside, which is how this dogwood species gets its common name. Roughleaf dogwoods have flowers that lack the beautiful white bracts of other popular dogwoods.

The Cornus drummondii grows to be 15–25 feet (4.6–7.6 meters) tall. Some claim that roughleaf dogwood leaves have a sour milk odour.

Dogwood bark: In immature trees, roughleaf dogwood tree bark is smooth and grayish-brown. Before turning into block-like patterns, the dogwood bark becomes scaly and flaky.

Dogwood leaves: The oval form of roughleaf dogwood tree leaves has a rounded base and a pointed tip. On reddish-colored or green stems, the simple leaves grow in an opposing arrangement.

Types of Small Flowering Dogwood Trees or Shrubs (With Pictures)

Little to medium-sized flowering trees make up the dogwood family. Yet, certain dogwood species have a shrubby growth habit and a short or dwarf growing size. Small dogwood trees or shrubs are ideal for compact gardens or lawns because of their small size. Little dogwood trees and shrubs come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus alba)

A tiny flowering tree or big shrub, red twig dogwood (Cornus alba) is a common sight. White flowers clusters with rounded flower heads grow on this ornamental landscaping dogwood tree. The prominent veins that stretch toward the pointed tips of the lime-green oblong-ovate leaves.

The spectacular red winter bark of Cornus alba is one of the plant’s most appealing features. Red twig dogwood trees are cold-hardy trees that grow in zones 3 through 7 and are also known as Siberian dogwood. The red twig dogwoods can grow up to 10 feet tall (3 meters). Most of the trees grow as multi-stemmed shrubs, despite their classification as a small tree.

Dogwood bark: In late autumn and winter, red twig dogwood plants have thin stems that turn blood red.

Dogwood leaves: The leaves of red twig dogwood are lanceolate with a rounded base and smooth margins. On twigs, the small shrub leaves grow in an alternating sequence.

‘Wolf Eyes’ Japanese Dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’)

‘Wolf Eyes’ dogwood is a tiny tree or multi-stemmed shrub that is a minor cultivar of the well-known Cornus kousa tree. The growth of this multi-trunked little blooming dogwood is vase-shaped at first, then rounded.

The Japanese dogwood, also known as the little tree or big shrub, may grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall. The pinkish-white blooms with pointed white petals (bracts) make this small dogwood stand out.

Dogwood bark: Japanese dogwood bark is scaly and exfoliating, and it’s called wolf eyes. Tan or orange patches appear beneath the grayish bark as it peels off.

Dogwood leaves: Variegated lance-shaped leaves with green centers and ivory-colored wavy margins, Japanese dogwood leaves are known as “wolf eyes.”

Stiff Dogwood (Cornus foemina)

A small flowering tree or large shrub with many trunks, stiff dogwood (Cornus foemina) is a tough plant. The dark glossy green leaves of the dogwood plant are composed of pointed oval leaves. Little white blooms bloom in clusters throughout the spring and summer, eventually producing black drupes. Up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) tall, stiff dogwood trees The odor of flowers from stiff dogwood trees is unpleasant.

Dogwood bark: Exfoliating grey to brown bark on stiff dogwood trees reveals fascinating patterns on the straight, slender trunks.

Dogwood leaves: Simple leaves with a smooth feel and a dark green color are found on the Stiff dogwood tree. In the fall, the long, lanceolate leaves take on a dark red or purple tint.

Bloodtwig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’)

Bloodtwig dogwood, sometimes known as common dogwood, is a big decorative shrub with fiery-colored twigs and stems. Between 7 and 20 feet (2 and 6 meters) tall, bloodtwig dogwood bushes grow. Little white blooms, oval-pointed leaves, and crimson bark characterize this shrubby plant. The native European plant bloodtwig dogwood thrives in warm sunny areas.

Dogwood bark: Multi-stemmed plants with strong stems and crimson-colored bark, bloodtwig dogwoods are a sight to behold.

Dogwood leaves: In the ovate green leaves of Bloodtwig dogwood, there are distinct curving veins. The leaves have soft edges and a pointed tip, as with all dogwood species.

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

In the winter, red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a beautiful multi-stemmed shrub with crimson twigs that offers ornamental value. Red osier is a fast-growing medium to large deciduous shrub that grows 5–13 ft (1.5–4 m) tall and 10–16 ft (3–5 m) wide. It is also known as red willow, redstem dogwood, and red twig dogwood. To limit the spread, make sure to remove the underground runners.

Red osier dogwood blooms produce little white clusters of blooms. The fruit is a 0.2–0.35″ (5–9 mm) spherical white fruit that is attractive to eat. Red osier dogwood thrives in full sun or partly shaded conditions and thrives on well-drained rich moist soil.

Dogwood bark: During the winter, red osier dogwood twigs have a stunning reddish bark that draws attention.

Dogwood leaves: The dark green leaves of red osier dogwood are 2–4.7 inches (5–12 cm) long and have a lighter dull green underside. The dogwood leaves are oblong to ovate in shape and grow alternately. The leaves turn crimson-purple in hue during the fall.

Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

Gray dogwood, sometimes known as northern swamp dogwood and panicle dogwood, is a huge deciduous shrub. This rhizomatous dogwood develops suckers on underground roots and has a spherical growth habit. Gray dogwood grows to be 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) tall and has a similar spread.

In the autumn, the leaves of this dogwood plant turn reddish-purple. Although the small white blossoms produce immature green fruits that turn white when mature, they are produced in rounded clusters.

Dogwood bark: As the twigs mature, new bark becomes gray, and it is tan-brown at first.

Dogwood leaves: Gray dogwood has lance-shaped green leaves with fewer veins than other dogwood varieties, and it blooms in the spring. The dogwood leaves are 1.5–3.2″ (4–8 cm) long and arranged oppositely.

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