Round-leaf Dogwood 
Cornus rugosa

In a previous post I showed how to ID a dogwood down to its genus. Rounding out (yes, a pun) our discussion of the opposite-branched shrub dogwoods, is round-leaf dogwood.

QUICK WINTER ID + NOTES: Round-leaf dogwood is not a plant I’m very familiar with. I’ve only seen it out in the wild once, and I might have passed right by if I hadn’t been out searching specifically for dogwoods. Like the other dogwoods it has opposite branches and small, but long narrow terminal buds. The twigs are very distinctive, reminding me of neapolitan ice cream. The twigs are pink with brown splotches and small scattered stiff white hairs. Older growth is green with promient punctate lenticels. While most dogwoods are more aligned with wet soils, round-leaf dogwood is more similar to alternate-leaf dogwood in that it gets by much better in drier upland soils.

Identifying Characteristics

HABITAT Upland forests and rocky slopes
MATURE BARK Greenish with prominent lenticels
TWIGS Can be pinkish with chocolate-y spots, like neapolitan ice cream, covered sparsely with short, stiff, white hairs.
PITH White
BUDS Elongate, pink, stalked, sparse but stiff hairs
FLOWERS Small white flowers in dense clusters
FRUITS White to a lightish blue
SIMILAR SPECIES More similar to some viburnums


Perhaps indicative of the relative sparseness of round-leaf dogwood, there is scant research that focuses directly on the species. Most studies incidentally mention round-leaf dogwood, as in a habitat analysis (link) of an area or studies looking at foraging patterns of deer (link 1, link 2), bear (link), or birds (link).


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