On the previous post I showed how to ID a dogwood down to its genus. Here, I’ll go through each of the 4 common shrub dogwoods (gray, silky, red-osier, and round-leaf) with opposite branches and the 1 with alternate branches (alternate-leaf dogwood) that we have in Vermont.
QUICK WINTER ID + NOTES: Gray dogwood is easily recognizable from the other dogwoods by theÂ orange-brown color on the new growth of twigs. As its name might suggest, it’s not the flashiest of plants, with a dull gray bark on parts of the tree more than a year old. In winter it can be hard to pick this shrub out from many other shrubs competing for real estate in wetlands and along roadsides. If you want to find it, I suggest looking for the more visually stunning red-osier and silky dogwoods, and then poking around as there’s bound to be some gray dogwood nearby. When poking around keep your eyes tuned from the orangey new growth and super thin twigs (similar to honeysuckles, but the twigs are far less dense).
Once you get a sense of what it looks like, you’ll start to see it in lots of other places as well. It does particularly well in disturbed sites (like a powerline clearings) with wet soils. In the fall, the bright white fruit and purple mottled leaves make this shrub stand out. Gray dogwood is stoloniferous, producing lateral runners that send up new growth, so this shrub can form a small thicket, though not quite as dense as with red-osier or silky dogwood.