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Northern Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii)

Life history

Species overview

Northern Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii), a plant, is found on the margins of mesic forests and prairies. Elsewhere it is known from banks and thickets along rivers and on clay lakeplains. Blooming occurs May through June; fruiting occurs August through October. The optimal identification period for this species is all year.

Synonyms: Cornus priceae, Swida priceae


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from red osier dogwood (C. stolonifera) by having leaves with 3 to 4 (vs. 5 to 8) lateral veins. Distinguished from grey dogwood (C. racemosa) by having leaves with spreading (vs. appressed) pubescence beneath. No other Cornus species has leaves that are as rough as C. drummondii.
  • Flower characteristics: Cyme flat or rounded-top, 5 to 7.6 cm; flowers white, 4-parted, small; sepals usually less than 1 mm.
  • Fruit characteristics: Drupe white, on red pedicle
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, 5 to 12 cm long, ovate-lanceolate to broadly ovate, tapering to point at tip, rough above and softly hairy below.


  • Blooming phenology: May through June
  • Fruiting phenology: August through October
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is all year


  • Growth form: Shrub
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associates: Quercus rubra, Acer saccharum, Tilia americana, Physocarpus opulifolius, Rhus typhina, Viburnum lentago, Carya ovata, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Juglans nigra.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

Northern Roughleaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii) is on the "watch list." Watch list species have experienced, or are believed to have experienced, a statewide or range wide decline, but they are not currently tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database. The watch list includes newly discovered species for which origin and rarity need to be determined, certain animals designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, and species that were tracked in the past but proved more abundant, widespread or less vulnerable than previously thought. Although watch list species are not actively tracked by NHI, occurrences documented during surveys are often stored by NHI, as these species could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of their decline.

Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSNA
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIW

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on the margins of mesic forests and prairies. Elsewhere it is known from banks and thickets along rivers and on clay lakeplains.
  • Soils: Moist soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Northern Roughleaf Dogwood. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Northern Roughleaf Dogwood. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.


Northern Roughleaf Dogwood Photo.

Photo © John D. Byrd,

Northern Roughleaf Dogwood Photo.

Photo © Franklin Bonner,

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition