pagoda dogwood

(Cornus alternifolia)

Conservation Status
pagoda dogwood
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FAC - Facultative

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Pagoda dogwood plant is deciduous, slow-growing, and short-lived. It is usually a shrub, sometimes a small tree. In Minnesota mature individuals are usually 8 to 25 tall, with a trunk up to 6 in diameter, though large individuals may reach 30 tall.

When in the form of a shrub, it rises on several sprawling stems that often fork near the ground.

When in the form of a tree, it rises on a single trunk. The crown is broad and flat-topped. Branches are horizontal and curl upwards at the ends. They are arranged in irregular whorls, forming separate, horizontal tiers, which gives the crown a layered appearance and the plant its common name.

The bark on young trees is dark green and smooth. On mature trees the bark is thin, dark gray to reddish brown, and smooth or dividing into shallow fissures.

The twigs are slender, smooth, shiny, greenish-yellow to dark reddish-brown, or dark purplish-red. The pith is white. The tips of the twigs turn upwards. Dead twigs turn yellowish-orange.

The terminal buds are about ¼ long, narrowly egg-shaped, pointed, reddish-brown or purplish-brown, and loosely covered with 2 or 3 scales. Flower buds are rounded.

The leaves are alternate, oval to egg-shaped, 2½ to 4½ long, and 2 to 3 wide. They are on 1¼ to 2 long leaf stalks. They are usually clustered near the tips of the branches, making them appear whorled or almost opposite. On each side of the midrib there are 5 or 6 conspicuous veins that curve upward toward the tip of the leaf. They are rounded or short-tapered at the base and tapered at the tip to a long, sharp point. The upper surface is dark green and hairless or sparsely hairy with appressed hairs. The lower surface is paler and hairy. The leaves turn yellow to red to purple in autumn.

The inflorescence is a large, open, branched cluster at the ends of branches. The clusters are 2 to 4 across and flat-topped or round-topped, usually hemispherical.

The flowers are small and white or cream colored. There are 4 minute sepals, 4 small petals, 4 stamens with long filaments, and a well-developed style. They open after the leaves.

The fruits are berry-like, 5 16 to in diameter, and borne on a red stalk. It is green initially, turning to red, finally to bluish-black. It ripens in mid-summer.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

8 to 25

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Pagoda dogwood often grows as a tree and always has alternate leaves, distinguishing it from other dogwoods.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Woods, wood edges, thickets.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to June

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28.

 
  6/9/2012      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Cornales (dogwoods, hydrangeas, and allies)  
 

Family

Cornaceae (dogwood)  
  Subfamily Cornoideae  
 

Genus

Cornus (dogwood)  
  Subgenus Mesomora  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
  Swida alternifolia  
       
 

Common Names

 
 

alternate-leaf dogwood

alternate-leaved dogwood

alternateleaf dogwood

green osier

pagoda dogwood

pigeon berry

pigeonberry

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Filament

The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 
 
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Randy

 
 

Characteristic green bark, along with alternate leafing, makes it easy to distinguish from Red and Gray Dogwood.

 
    pagoda dogwood      
           
 

Leaves and flowers.

 
    pagoda dogwood      
           
 

Flowers.

 
    pagoda dogwood      
 

Bill Reynolds

 
    pagoda dogwood   pagoda dogwood  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Leaves

 
    pagoda dogwood   pagoda dogwood  
           
 

Fall Color

 
    pagoda dogwood   pagoda dogwood  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
  Cornus alternifolia
Blake C. Willson
 
  Cornus alternifolia  
 
About

Pagoda Dogwood

 
  Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Trees with Don Leopold - alternate-leaf dogwood
ESFNature
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 12, 2013

Professor Don Leopold demonstrates the characteristics of the alternate-leaf dogwood.

Content produced by Christopher Baycura for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).

   
  Alternate Leaf Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia
MrILoveTheAnts
 
   
 
About

Published on May 9, 2012

Two or Three years ago I planted an Alternate Leaf Dogwood sapling because I read a short sentance or two about it in the book "Bringing Nature Home" by Doug Tallamy. He praises it for the berries it makes that birds love to eat, but I have to praise it for the flowers and assortment of pollinators it attracts! This is the first year it's flowered and I've never seen a tree do it so profusely. I have Viburnums that are taller than this that don't produce as many flowers. This was a good pollinator investment.

   
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this plant.

 
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  Randy
June 2021

Location: Albert Lea, MN

Leaves and flowers.

pagoda dogwood

 
  Randy
June 2020

Location: Albert Lea, MN

Characteristic green bark, along with alternate leafing, makes it easy to distinguish from Red and Gray Dogwood.

pagoda dogwood

 
  Bill Reynolds
6/25/2004

Location: St. Louis Co.

pagoda dogwood

 
  Bill Reynolds
6/23/2004

Location: St. Louis Co.

pagoda dogwood

 
           
 
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