​Roughleaf Dogwood: Characteristics, Uses, and Landscaping

​Roughleaf Dogwood: Characteristics, Uses, and Landscaping

Posted by Tammy Sons on Dec 31, 1969

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Rough leaf Dogwood: Characteristics, Uses, and Landscaping

Cornus drummondii is a native North American deciduous plant grown in hardiness zones 4-9. It is a perennial and reaches up to 25 feet in height and 10-15 feet in width. The common name of Roughleaf Dogwood comes, of course, from the rough texture of its leaves. Further adding to this unique feature, the leaves are also covered in hair and have 3 to 5 lateral veins curving outwards. The edges are completely smooth, and the veins will remain intact even if the leaf itself is ripped apart. The bark also has a slightly rough texture, growing in long plates with the grey coloring. Foliage is a somewhat shiny green turning purple than red in fall. Immature twigs are thin with a brown or grayish red color and turn completely grey as they age.

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From May to June, light cream-colored flowers appear on the plant in clusters that can be 3 inches in width. The individual flowers themselves are 1/4 inch wide with four petals and stamens. They also have one stylus and pistil apiece. White fruit about .5 inches in diameter follow the flowers from August to October. The fruit is beloved by wildlife, and fruit droppings are not very problematic.

Rough leaf Dogwood grows relatively fast and is a very hardy plant. Characteristically, it prefers moist soil but will grow in dry soil if it is deeply planted. This plant can live in soil containing loam or clay. It also does not matter if said soil is alkaline, acidic, sandy, or well-drained. Rough leaf Dogwood has a high drought tolerance making it ideal for areas with less water. It can be grown in partial shade, but more sun is preferable for improved flowering and fruit production. In the wild, it grows near creeks, in woods, and thickets. As mentioned earlier, wildlife (mainly birds) love the fruit, so it does not last a very long time.

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The spread of these plants is up to fifteen feet and is very dense. The high density makes Roughleaf dogwood an excellent choice for hedges and borders. It makes a beautiful understory candidate as well. Even though the plant is considered closer to a shrub, it can be trained to be a small tree.

Besides being an excellent choice for decorating, this deciduous plant also has some practical uses. Rough leaf Dogwood is excellent for stabilizing soil, particularly near sources of water. That is understandable, considering that some of their natural habitats include creek areas. Another use is to attract wildlife and help with improving habitats. While other animals are known to eat from the plant, birds love the fruit. Because of this, Roughleaf dogwood provides sustenance as well as a home for birds. At least forty species eat its fruit, so no matter the zone it is planted in, some bird activity can be expected, especially during the fall season when the fruit ripens.

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When using this plant in landscaping, keep in mind that it can grow up to several trunks, but little training can be made to grow only one. There are many benefits to using Roughleaf dogwood in landscaping, and as explained above, many of them are practical. Due to the ease of growing the plant in multiple environments, the dogwood's placement is mainly up to what effect is wanted and what it will be used for. For example, it can add beauty and attract birds along a driveway or recreational area. Rough leaf Dogwood is one of the most attractive and valuable Cornus(Dogwood) family types.

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