Rough-leafed Dogwood

~ Plant Highlights ~


Rough-leafed dogwoods produce clusters of small white flowers that are attractive to many different types of pollinators. Photo credit: John E. Spencer, cc-by-sa 4.0 

The rough-leafed dogwood (Cornus drummondii) is one of five species of dogwoods native to Kentucky. It can be found growing in thickets, open woodlands, edges of fields or creeks, and savannahs. Rough-leafed dogwoods can grow 15-20 feet tall and will often send up new shoots to form a multi-trunk shrub or thicket. As one might suspect from the name, the leaves of rough-leafed dogwoods feel rough to the touch.

In Kentucky, rough-leafed dogwoods bloom from May to July. Rough-leaved dogwoods produce clusters of small white flowers that look very different from the large flowers produced by the more familiar flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). The flowers are highly attractive to many different pollinators including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, and many others. In late summer and early fall, the pollinated flowers will form clusters of white fruit. Songbirds and other wildlife will eagerly devour the fruit.

The white berries produced by rough-leafed dogwoods are quickly eaten by songbirds and other wildlife. Photo credit: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.),, CC-BY 3.0 

Although the flowering dogwood is the most commonly used dogwood for landscape purposes, the rough-leafed dogwood can also be grown as a landscape shrub. It will grow in a wide variety of soils. Rough-leafed dogwoods can either be used to form a thick shrub / screen or can be pruned into more of a tree form. If you are looking for a native plant that can be used to create a privacy screen or just want a “different” native shrub that will benefit pollinators, songbirds, and other wildlife visiting your yard, then I encourage you to take a look at the rough-leafed dogwood.



Shannon Trimboli is a beekeeper, farmer, wildlife biologist, and author. She owns Grassy Roads Farm and Busy Bee Nursery & Consulting. Busy Bee Nursery & Consulting specializes in plants and habitat consulting services for honey bees, native pollinators, and wildlife conservation. In 2018, her first book, Plants Honey Bees Use in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, was published. Shannon also writes a weekly blog called Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife. The blog features profiles of pollinators and wildlife, tips for attracting pollinators and wildlife, highlights of different plants for pollinators and wildlife, and life on the farm and nursery. You can sign up to have her blog emailed to you.

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