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Also known as swamp dogwood, this mid-size shrub tolerates close to full shade. Showy white spring flowers are followed by pale blue fruits that are quickly eaten by birds in late summer. Summer foliage has a silver cast due to fine hairs on the leaves that give it its common name, Fall foliage is a striking orange-red.


Silky dogwood can be found growing wild along streams, ponds and other wetlands across much of the eastern half of the United States. Works well in moist, naturalized areas and helps stabilize soil in erosion-prone sites. When left alone, may spread to form thickets, an increasingly critical type of habitat that benefits wildlife.


Plant Characteristics:

Grows to 6-10’ tall. Suckers to form colonies if allowed.


Needs at least 2 hours of sun.


Thrives in dry to wet soil, and tolerates heat, drought and soil compaction.


Tolerates deer browse and proximity to walnuts.


Wildlife value:

Host plant for 111 types of caterpillars, including the spring azure butterfly, and io and definite tussock moths. Butterflies nectar at its blooms. Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, quail, turkey, chipmunks, black bear, foxes, white-tailed deer, skunks, and squirrels. The foliage is browsed by white-tailed deer. Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia.  Its low-growing habit provides important cover and nesting sites.


Medicinal, Edible and Other Uses:

Root bark has an astringent quality due to the presence of cornin, a glycoside, and when made into tea or tincture, has been used to treat diarrhea, painful urination and chest congestion, and as a quinine substitute.  The fruits are used as digestive tonic.


The berries are edible raw or cooked.

Dogwood, Silky, Cornus amomum

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