Shrub to 3 m tall Leaves: opposite, dark green above, grayish white with hairy brownish red veins beneath, 5 - 7.5 cm long, elliptic to egg-shaped with arching (arcuate) veins. Flowers: borne in flat-topped clusters to 5 cm wide, white. Fruit: fleshy with a center seed (drupe), borne in flat-topped clusters, light blue. Twigs: purple to yellowish red with dense hairs when young.
Similar species: Several dogwood species are difficult to distinguish from each other. All of the following are shrubs with opposite leaves and arching leaf venation, but the twigs and fruit provide useful identification features. Cornus stolonifera has red to purplish red twigs that intensify in winter and flat- to round-topped clusters of white fruit. Cornus racemosa has tan to reddish brown twigs that become gray with age and round-topped to pyramidal clusters of white fruit on pinkish red stalks. Cornus rugosa has light yellow to green twigs that sometimes develop reddish purple patches, leaves that may be almost rounded, and clusters of light blue fruit.
Flowering: mid May to mid June
Habitat and ecology: Common throughout the Chicago Region in low and open areas, moist flats, calcareous fens, and along streams.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Cornus comes from the Latin word, cornu, meaning horn, referring to its hard wood. Obliqua comes from the Latin word meaning slanted.
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
In the lake area frequent to common in low places about swamps, ponds, and lakes and along streams. South of this area it becomes infrequent to rare, especially in the unglaciated region.