Gray dogwood berries edible

Gray dogwood

Size and Form

A large, 10 to 15 feet high and wide upright shrub forming large thickets

Tree & Plant Care

Grows in full sun in wet or dry sites but best in well-drained soil. Tolerant of heavy shade.
An excellent plant for sceening or to use along ponds and stream banks.
Its suckering, spreading habit requires more maintenance and pruning for formal plantings.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 1
Occurs in disturbed woods, moist ground along streams, wet meadows, and prairie margins.

Attracts birds & butterflies

White berries are quickly eaten by birds
Over 98 species of birds, including flicker, tanager, woodpeckers, and catbird are attracted to this plant for its fruit and use as a shelter and a nesting site.

Bark color and texture

Younger stems have a reddish color, older stems are grayish-brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite leaves, 2 to 4 inches long; grayish-green, elliptic to lance-shaped leaves.
Foliage turns an interesting (but not always showy) purplish red in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) photo: John Hagstrom Flat clusters of white flowers borne in terminal clusters in late spring; flowers have a slightly unpleasant smell.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Bluish-white berries ripen July through October and persist into early winter.
Attractive bright red fruit stalks persist through winter.

Plant Finder

Gray Dogwood fruit

Gray Dogwood fruit

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Gray Dogwood in bloom

Gray Dogwood in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Gray Dogwood flowers

Gray Dogwood flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 12 feet

Spread: 12 feet


Hardiness Zone: 3b


An underutilized and quite showy shrub for general garden or massing use; white flowers in spring, white berries in fall on showy pink stems, and good fall color; very adaptable, but suckers profusely

Ornamental Features

Gray Dogwood has clusters of creamy white flowers at the ends of the branches in late spring. It has grayish green foliage throughout the season. The pointy leaves turn an outstanding deep purple in the fall. It produces white berries in late summer.

Landscape Attributes

Gray Dogwood is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

This is a high maintenance shrub that will require regular care and upkeep, and can be pruned at anytime. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Suckering

Gray Dogwood is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Planting & Growing

Gray Dogwood will grow to be about 12 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and even some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This species is native to parts of North America.

Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) in the Dogwoods Database

Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania – Zone 6b) on Dec 27, 2017 9:47 PM

I used to sell some Gray Dogwoods at a conventional nursery in northeast Illinois to be used as a screen or in a shrub borders to some customers. In landscapes it is usually about 8 to 12 feet high and wide. It gets bigger in nature and suckers a lot to form a colony. It is native from central Maine to northern Delaware, most of New York and Pennsylvania, areas of West Virginia, lower Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, parts of Missouri, much of Iowa & Minnesota, and southeast Ontario, growing in upland sites of meadows, prairies, forest edges, hilltops, and cliffs. Smooth twigs are tan to red-brown, pith white to brown, and stems with smooth, gray bark. The creamy flower clusters to around 2 inches wide bloom in late May to early June. The white fruit is borne in August-September and is loved by over 100 species of birds. After the fruit is gone, the red peduncle stems that held the fruit are attractive. Shallow, fibrous roots makes it easy to transplant. Grows about 1.5 feet/year overall. It is found only rarely or occasionally planted in yards. It is more likely to be used by landscape architects that know this good shrub at parks, public properties, campuses, etc.

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