Alternate-Leaved Dogwood (Pagoda Dogwood)

Alternate-Leaved Dogwood (Pagoda Dogwood)

Cornus alternifolia
Cornaceae (dogwoods)

A shrub or small tree with branches often in tierlike layers.

Leaves simple, mostly alternate, often crowded near the end of twig, 2–5 inches long, egg-shaped or widest in the middle, edges smooth, tip pointed; upper surface smooth, dark green; lower surface paler, hairy, with lateral veins 4–6 on each side, conspicuous; leaf stalk ¾–2¼ inches long.

Bark thin, dark reddish-brown, smooth or grooved and broken into irregular narrow ridges.

Twigs often horizontal or ascending, slender, smooth, green.

Flowers May–June, white to cream-colored, flower cluster broad or flat-topped, 1¼–2½ inches wide, sepals minute or absent, petals 4, about 1/8 inch long.

Fruits July–September, borne on a red stalk, round, fleshy, 1-seeded, bluish-black, about 1/3 inch long.

Similar species: When not in flower, this species could be confused with flowering dogwood, but that species has opposite (not alternate) leaves.

Height: to 18 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Grows on wooded, north-facing slopes and along wooded banks of streams. A popular ornamental for its fleshy fruits, which attract birds, and for the yellow to red fall foliage. In cultivation, it prefers naturalized plantings in partial shade.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Found naturally in central and northeast Missouri, and south through the central Ozarks. Cultivated statewide.
This species has several common names: pagoda dogwood, green osier, pigeonberry and blue dogwood.
Human connections: 
This species is a good landscaping replacement for the cold-sensitive flowering dogwood in the northern part of the state. Like other dogwoods, the wood is hard and is fashioned into many objects.
Ecosystem connections: 
Deer and rabbits browse the leaves and several types of birds eat the fruits. This species also provides important cover and nesting habitat for several types of animals.
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