Stiff Dogwood (Foemina)

The Stiff Dogwood (Foemina) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Stiff Dogwood (Foemina) has green foliage and inconspicuous white flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous black fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Stiff Dogwood (Foemina) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Stiff Dogwood (Foemina) will reach up to 16 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 16 feet.

The Stiff Dogwood (Foemina) 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 moderate 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 -3°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Wildlife: Fruits are eaten by several species of birds including quail, catbirds, mockingbirds, robins, and brown thrashers.

Recreation and Beautification: Excellent landscape tree for its very attractive form and profuse white flowers. Frequently used for massing or naturalizing, screen and border.

General Characteristics

Cornus foemina P. Mill., swamp dogwood, is primarily found along the coastal plain from eastern Virginia to central Florida, west to Louisiana and north to southeastern Missouri. It is a deciduous small tree to large shrub, growing to 15 ft in height, with multiple trunks, 4 inches in diameter. Its bark is thick and smooth, frequently furrowed with shallow ridges exposing gray inner bark. The plant’s leaves are opposite and oval-shaped, with smooth margins. Flowers are creamy white, loose, and small; they occur in flat topped clusters without showy bracts. Fruits are small, open clusters of bluish to purple drupes (fleshy, one-seeded fruits).

Required Growing Conditions

Swamp dogwood generally grows in swampy, low wetland habitats, barrier islands, and along streams, riverbanks, marshes and creeks. It is found growing along ditches on the second road back from the ocean at Emerald Isle and found to exhibit moderate salt tolerance.

Swamp dogwood is distributed throughout most of the southeast United States.

Cultivation and Care

Like most dogwoods, this species can be grown easily from seeds collected from mature, native trees and from softwood cuttings. Seeds at maturity must be either planted immediately or prechilled. Seeds sown in nursery beds should be covered with ¼ to ½ inch of soil and mulched during the winter.

General Upkeep and Control

Plant in moist soils in full sun to partial shade as it is tolerant to wet and/or low fertility soils. It requires little maintenance in naturalized settings. When used for massing, pruning to within a few inches of the ground every few years promotes fullness.

Pests and Potential Problems This plant has no serious insects and diseases except occasional infestation by scale insects and leaf spot.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) None recommended. Plants are not readily available from nurseries.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Thicket Forming
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 16
Vegetative Spread Moderate
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -3
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.8–7.2 pH
Precipitation Range 36–36 inches/yr
Planting Density 1200–1700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Minimum Frost-Free Days 240 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

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