Cornus foemina - P. Mill.
Stiff Dogwood
Other Common Names: stiff dogwood
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Cornus foemina P. Mill. (TSN 27803)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.155754
Element Code: PDCOR01070
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Dogwood Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Cornales Cornaceae Cornus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Cornus foemina
Taxonomic Comments: As treated here (following Kartesz, 1994 checklist), Cornus foemina excludes C. asperifolia and C. racemosa, sometimes treated as subspecies of C. foemina (ssp. microcarpa and ssp. racemosa, respectively), and includes C. stricta, sometimes recognized as distinct.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26Jan1998
Global Status Last Changed: 26Jan1998
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), Delaware (SNR), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Indiana (SNR), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (SNR), New Jersey (S2), North Carolina (SNR), Oklahoma (S1S2), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Virginia (S5)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Cornus racemosa is native to North America and occurs in dry to moist open sites from central Maine to southern Ontario and Minnesota, south to Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and west to Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma (Fernald 1950). Wilson (1965) lists C. racemosa as a subspecies of C. foemina; C. foemina subsp. racemosa occurring in the northeast U.S. from Maine to Minnesota, south to Missouri and east to Virginia, C. foemina subsp. foemina occurring in the southeast from S. Carolina to Florida west to Arkansas and eastern Texas (Wilson 1965).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Cornus spp. are natural early successional components of many woodland ecosystems in North America. They have many adaptions that enable them to take advantage of open areas, including a large number of seeds, vigorous seedlings and rapid subsequent growth, dispersal by birds, and high tolerance to adverse conditions such as drought and shade (Smith 1975, citing Auclair and Cottam 1971). Rapid and extensive cloning by rhizomatous growth allows dogwood species to create dense thickets which crowd out desired grasses, sedges and forbs, and alter wildlife habitat. Invasion of dogwood, along with other woody species, into prairies and wetlands became more extensive mainly due to the post-settlement decline in wildfires.

Woody plant invasion of floodplains is a concern in some areas, particularly in the western U.S., where stream diversion has greatly reduced the flow in rivers. Water diversion can reduce river flow to the extent that dogwoods and other woody plants invade the floodplain, reducing river channel width and drastically altering wildlife habitat. For example, woody plant invasion, including C. drummondii, willows (Salix spp.), green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), has reduced channel area of the Platte River in Nebraska by 50-85%, resulting in a loss of up to 97% of the roosting habitat for sandhill and whooping cranes and many other migratory birds (Currier 1987).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Cornus racemosa is native to North America and occurs in dry to moist open sites from central Maine to southern Ontario and Minnesota, south to Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and west to Kentucky, Missouri, and Oklahoma (Fernald 1950). Wilson (1965) lists C. racemosa as a subspecies of C. foemina; C. foemina subsp. racemosa occurring in the northeast U.S. from Maine to Minnesota, south to Missouri and east to Virginia, C. foemina subsp. foemina occurring in the southeast from S. Carolina to Florida west to Arkansas and eastern Texas (Wilson 1965).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NJ Burlington (34005)
OK McCurtain (40089)
SC Horry (45051)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Lower Delaware (02040202)+
03 Waccamaw (03040206)+
11 Upper Little (11140107)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Cornus racemosa is an ascending shrub with slender gray to light brown branches.
Technical Description: C. racemosa is an ascending shrub 2.5 m high with slender gray to light brown branches. Leaves are simple, opposite, lanceolate, elliptic or narrowly ovate, long-acuminate, 5-10 cm long and 2-4 cm wide tapering to short (3-10mm) petioles. The flowers are small, creamy white and ill- scented in cymes that are nearly as high as they are broad. The fruit is a white drupe less than 6 mm in diameter on a red pedicel and in red- stalked raceme-like clusters (Fernald 1950, Soper and Heimburger 1982). Wilson (1965) considers C. racemosa a subspecies of C. foemina; C. foemina subsp. racemosa occurring in the northern half of its range and C. foemina subsp. foemina in the south.
Duration: PERENNIAL
Reproduction Comments: Sexual reproduction: These dogwoods probably reach sexual maturity in three to four years. There is one viable seed per drupe in all four species (Stephens 1973). A complex of hybrids exists between C. drummondii, C. racemosa (C. foemina subsp. racemosa) and C. foemina (subsp. foemina). The hybrids have high pollen viability, robust growth, and fruit sometimes larger and more plentiful than that of the parent (Wilson 1965).

Seed dispersal: Seeds are dispersed by a variety of birds, including crows, vireos, redheaded woodpeckers and bluebirds (Ridley 1930), autumn through winter (Stephens 1973). Availability of perching sites may be important in dispersal. Smith (1975) included C. racemosa in his study of re-vegetation of forest openings, and found that most seeds were deposited by birds within 25 meters of the seed source, often in the shade near perching sites. About 25% of the dispersed seeds left the study area after consumption by long-distance flying birds.

Germination: Germination usually occurs in the spring following seed production and dispersal to a favorable site, but may be delayed a year due to a dormant embryo, hard pericarp (Brinkman 1974), and possible chemical inhibition by the pulp (Goodwin 1948). Mechanical and chemical scarification and stratification techniques are used commercially to stimulate germination in dogwood (Brinkman 1974). C. racemosa and C. stolonifera are described by Krefting and Roe (1949) as having "double dormancy", or requiring two periods of stratification for germination. C. stolonifera seeds that were treated first with acids then with cold stratification experienced almost 100% germination, whereas germination was much lower for those seeds receiving cold treatment only. However, seeds of both species that were twice stratified by passage through quail or pheasant gut plus cold treatment also gave relatively low percent germination. The authors suggested that this was due to a large amount of variability in the extent of scarification from the bird gizzards. Some seeds are injured or overstratified in the bird gut and some are left unscathed or understratified (Krefting and Roe 1949). Smith (1975) described C. racemosa as fruiting abundantly but having very low germinability, depending instead on vegetative reproduction to enhance its propagation. Germination tests of scarified and stratified C. drummondii seeds have shown a 25% germination in three samples after 50 days (Brinkman 1974).

Seedling establishment: Some Cornus spp. shrub seedlings are tolerant of variable light intensities, and may become established in woodland edges, within woods, or in open areas (Gatherum et al. 1963, Smith 1975). Seedlings may invade grasslands alone or with other woody plants (McClain pers. comm.).

Asexual reproduction: C. drummondii, C. racemosa, C. stolonifera and C. obliqua reproduce most successfully by vegetative growth following seedling establishment. Thickets may expand by adventitious underground shoot growth or rhizomatous growth (Stephens 1973, Wilson 1965, Smith 1975).

Ecology Comments: Populations: Dogwood invasion of grasslands from swales, ravines, and woodland edges of floodplains is accelerated by vegetative reproduction and tolerance to wind, full exposure or partial shade, and dry soils (Pound and Clements 1900, Costello 1931, Steyermark 1940, Albertson and Weaver 1945, Weaver 1965, Duxbury 1982).

As density within a dogwood thicket increases, groundcover vegetation decreases and may become entirely absent (Aikman 1928, Weaver 1965). Annual weeds sometimes grow beneath dogwood (Duxbury 1982, Nyboer pers. comm. 1983), and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) may invade dogwood thickets (Albertson and Weaver 1945, Aikman 1928). Dogwood may persist and sometimes dominate the understory of woods (Duxbury 1982).

Estuarine Habitat(s): Forested wetland, Scrub-shrub wetland
Riverine Habitat(s): Low gradient
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Woodland - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Gray dogwood occurs in thickets and moist soil in riparian zones, roadsides, on sandy slopes and limestone ridges (Soper and Heimburger 1982).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Economic Uses: LANDSCAPING, Cultivated ornamental
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Feb1988
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: C. CONVERSE, 1984, UPDATE BY NANCY ECKARDT, MRO (1988)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 22Feb1988
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): C. CONVERSE, 1984, UPDATE BY NANCY ECKARDT, MRO

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Elias, T. S. 1980. The Complete Trees of North America Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, New York. 948 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2016. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 12. Magnoliophyta: Vitaceae to Garryaceae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiv + 603 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.

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