The Dogwood Family

Part of the Native Plant Trail


Written and narrated by Ed Miller.

The Dogwood Family

Most of our native dogwoods are planted here. Missing is the dwarf dogwood, aka Bunchberry. This is not the right habitat for it and in fact we have not been able to grow it in any of our native plant sites. It prefers a colder site which we can't provide, but it has been found in much more southern locations, so we expect that with patience we will be successful.

The largest of the dogwoods (silky cornel or Cornus amomum) was here before we started our collection. The largest of the red stem dogwood was also here, but we have added a couple more plants.

Close to the trail are the alternate leaf and round leaf dogwoods. The alternate leaf dogwood on the right was quite large and had been transplanted from another Arboretum location, but transplant shock may have made it susceptible to disease, and it has had to be cut way back. Another small plant of the same species is next to it. The round leaf dogwood would prefer a limestone site but seems to be OK here. We give a shot of lime each year to this species and all the other species that crave it.

All dogwoods have inconspicuous flowers, but the bunchberry and the flowering dogwood surround their flowers with four white (or pink) bracts to advertise their presence. In the back of our collection we have a healthy young flowering dogwood. We also have this species planted at the dry sunny location in case this site proves unsatisfactory.

A tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) is next to the trail. It is not a dogwood but is closely related. I am particular fond of this species which has a nice shape and turns a brilliant red in the fall. Most people consider this a southern species, but given the right conditions it grows to a ripe old age, as one did in a wetland north of Saratoga (over 400 years by ring count).

Ed Miller, curator, Landis Arboretum Native Plant Trail February 7, 2013