Gray Dogwood (Racemosa)

The Gray Dogwood (Racemosa) is generally described as a perennial shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Gray Dogwood (Racemosa) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous brown fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Gray Dogwood (Racemosa) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Gray Dogwood (Racemosa) will reach up to 15 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 6 feet.

The Gray Dogwood (Racemosa) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Gray dogwood is useful as a low-growing wild hedge which provides summer food and some cover for small animals and birds.

General Characteristics

Cornus racemosa Lam, gray dogwood, is a thickly branched, slow growing dogwood seldom more than 6 feet high at maturity. Its flowers, which bloom in June or July, are white and loosely clustered, and its white fruit, which appears in September and October, is set off by bright red fruit-stalks. Its leaves are opposite, taper-pointed and oval.

Required Growing Conditions

Gray dogwood has a range of adaptability equaled by few other shrubs, and it tolerates many climatic conditions. Tolerance to shade is considered intermediate. It is not well adapted to coastal plain conditions.

Gray dogwood is distributed throughout the northeastern United States.

Cultivation and Care

Only seedlings of gray dogwood are practical. All should be planted as early in the spring as possible. When using dogwood for streambank planting, eroded or steep banks should be graded before planting. Plant in the early spring with dormant planting stock. Planting after May will severely reduce chances for success. One-year rooted cuttings or seedlings can be planted vertically into the bank with one or two inches of cutting wood protruding. They should be stuck in a hole large enough to accommodate the root system when well spread. The soil must be tamped well around the roots. Fresh, unrooted hardwood cuttings, easier to handle but less reliable, should be stuck vertically into the bank, leaving one to two inches above ground. A dibble can be used to make a hole. Tamp adequately to provide complete contact between the cutting and the soil. Cuttings may also be buried horizontally two inches deep in damp soil, if the ground is stony. Fresh hardwood cuttings, 3/8 to 1/2 inch at the thick end, 9 inches long, and made while dormant, are ideal. Without cold storage, planting should be done as soon as possible after cutting. Plant both rooted cuttings and unrooted hardwood cuttings on 2 feet spacing in a diamond pattern.When using for wildlife or screening purposes, the planting site should be cultivated to destroy existing vegetation. If not, the sod should be removed from an area two feet across for each plant. The holes should be deep enough to allow for the full extension of the roots. Spacing for hedges and screens should be staggered and 2 x 2 feet, and 4 to 5 feet for windbreaks. A small handful of fertilizer can be placed around each plant.

General Upkeep and Control

Dogwoods used on streambanks are subject to mechanical damage. The site should be inspected annually for needed repairs in the spring after heavy runoff or ice floes. Fill in gaps by replanting or by laying down and covering branches of nearby plants. Any mechanical measures used to control the bank, such as riprap, must be kept in repair to maintain effective protection.

Competing vegetation should be controlled around all dogwood plants used for hedges, screens, etc. This is particularly important during the first few years after planting.

Pests and Potential Problems There are currently no serious pests of gray dogwood.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) No cultivars are available at this time, however common seedlings are available at most commercial hardwood nurseries.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 15
Vegetative Spread Slow
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5–7 pH
Precipitation Range 28–28 inches/yr
Planting Density 1200–4800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Minimum Frost-Free Days 100 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA