Home Flora of Missouri
Name Search
Cornus L. Search in The Plant ListSearch in IPNISearch in Australian Plant Name IndexSearch in Index Nominum Genericorum (ING)Search in NYBG Virtual HerbariumSearch in JSTOR Plant ScienceSearch in SEINetSearch in African Plants Database at Geneva Botanical GardenSearch in Flora do Brasil 2020Search in Reflora - Virtual HerbariumSearch in Living Collections Decrease font Increase font Restore font

Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 117. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/11/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/23/2009)


Export To PDF Export To Word

1. Cornus L. (dogwood)

Plants shrubs or small trees (occasionally rhizomatous herbs elsewhere). Leaves usually opposite (alternate in C. alternifolia). Winter buds ovoid, with usually 2 scales. Twigs with white to brown pith lacking diaphragms (cross-partitions). Leaf blades with the margins entire or less commonly minutely wavy, the upper surface green to dark green, the undersurface usually pale green (except sometimes in C. foemina), the secondary veins strongly arched toward the leaf tip, becoming irregularly fused toward the leaf margin. Inflorescences terminal on the branches, short, broad panicles or usually compound umbels, in C. florida dense heads surrounded by 4 showy petaloid bracts. Flowers perfect (imperfect elsewhere). Calyces with the free portion consisting of 4 small, triangular lobes 0.1–2.0 mm long or a minute, low rim. Petals 4, inserted along the margin of the nectar disc, white, cream-colored, or greenish yellow. Stamens 4, the slender filaments 3–4 mm long, attached along the margin of the nectar disc, the anthers 1.0–1.5 mm long, narrowly oblong, attached toward the midpoint. Pistil of 2 fused carpels but 1 carpel sometimes aborting during development, the ovary frequently hairy, with 1 or 2 locules. Style 1, stout or slender, the stigma often 2-lobed. Ovule(s) 1 or 2 (1 per locule). Fruits ovoid to spherical, red, white, or dark blue. Stone 1- or 2-seeded, the seeds oblong, flattened. Forty to 65 species, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa.

In the past, some botanists have treated Cornus in a narrower sense, with various species groups segregated into 7–9 small genera (Murrell, 1993). Because these groups are more closely related to each other than to anything outside the genus, most botanists now regard them as subgenera of Cornus (Eyde, 1987). There are two major groups within Cornus, one with red fruits and large petaloid bracts subtending the inflorescence, and the other with blue or white fruits and the inflorescence bracts minute or absent (Eyde, 1988; Fan and Xiang, 2001). Taxonomic relationships within the blue- to white-fruited lineage are complicated by morphological intergradation and apparent hybridization, in addition to many of the original taxon descriptions having very brief, incomplete diagnoses and lacking designated type specimens. Furthermore, the size and shape of the leaves, degree of pubescence, and color of the twigs and fruits may be affected by exposure to sun and shade or other environmental factors. Flower morphology is more or less uniform, but the inflorescences vary from open panicles to compact, headlike clusters. For this group, the present treatment tentatively follows that of Wilson (1965).

Cornus is prized for its hard wood, which has been used in spears, daggers, and weaving shuttles. Additionally, several species are cultivated in the Midwest as hedges, specimen plants, and as ornamentals, especially cultivars with red or yellow stems. Dogwood fruits also provide food for various mammals and birds and are recommended for wildlife plantings. Various species are larval food plants for several groups of moths. The European species C. mas L. (Cornelian cherry) produces delicious fruits that are often prepared into jams and syrups. Steyermark (1963) noted that Native Americans prepared a tobacco substitute from strips of the bark of several species under the name kinnikinnick.


Export To PDF Export To Word Export To SDD
Switch to indented key format
1 1. Leaves alternate, tending to be clustered toward the tips of branches; petioles 3–5 cm long ... 1. C. ALTERNIFOLIA

Cornus alternifolia
2 1. Leaves opposite, usually relatively evenly dispersed along the branches, petioles 0.5–1.5 cm long

3 2. Inflorescences dense heads subtended by 4 showy petaloid bracts; fruit ovoid to ellipsoid, red ... 4. C. FLORIDA

Cornus florida
4 2. Inflorescences panicles or compound umbels, the bracts absent or rarely a few at the branch points and these minute and scalelike; fruit more or less spherical, blue to dark blue or white

5 3. Young twigs densely hairy; leaves with mostly 5 or 6 pairs of lateral veins; sepals 1 mm long or longer; style club-shaped, expanded at the tip; fruits dark blue, stones longitudinally grooved ... 2. C. AMOMUM

Cornus amomum
6 3. Young twigs glabrous; leaves with mostly 3 or 4 pairs of lateral veins; sepals less than 1 mm long; style relatively slender, not expanded at the tip; fruits dark blue or white, stones not grooved

7 4. Leaves with the upper surface moderately to strongly roughened (also with minute, appressed hairs), the undersurface moderately pubescent with more or less spreading, often somewhat woolly, unbranched and more or less basally branched (V-shaped or Y-shaped) hairs, the secondary veins mostly arising from the basal half of the blade ... 3. C. DRUMMONDII

Cornus drummondii
8 4. Leaves with the upper leaf surface smooth (but often with scattered minute, appressed hairs), the undersurface glabrous or sparsely pubescent with minute, straight, appressed hairs attached at their midpoints (T-shaped hairs), the secondary veins evenly spaced ... 5. C. FOEMINA Cornus foemina
© 2018 Missouri Botanical Garden - 4344 Shaw Boulevard - Saint Louis, Missouri 63110