Rough-leafed Dogwood

Rough-leafed dogwoods produce clusters of small white flowers that are attractive to many different types of pollinators. Photo credit: John E. Spencer, cc-by-sa 4.0

The rough-leafed dogwood (Cornus drummondii) is one of five species of dogwoods native to Kentucky. It can be found growing in thickets, open woodlands, edges of fields or creeks, and savannahs. Rough-leafed dogwoods can grow 15-20 feet tall and will often send up new shoots to form a multi-trunk shrub or thicket. As one might suspect from the name, the leaves of rough-leafed dogwoods feel rough to the touch.

In Kentucky, rough-leafed dogwoods bloom from May to July. Rough-leaved dogwoods produce clusters of small white flowers that look very different from the large flowers produced by the more familiar flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). The flowers are highly attractive to many different pollinators including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, and many others. In late summer and early fall, the pollinated flowers will form clusters of white fruit. Songbirds and other wildlife will eagerly devour the fruit.

Although the flowering dogwood is the most commonly used dogwood for landscape purposes, the rough-leafed dogwood can also be grown as a landscape shrub. It will grow in a wide variety of soils. Rough-leafed dogwoods can either be used to form a thick shrub / screen or can be pruned into more of a tree form. If you are looking for a native plant that can be used to create a privacy screen or just want a “different” native shrub that will benefit pollinators, songbirds, and other wildlife visiting your yard, then I encourage you to take a look at the rough-leafed dogwood.

The white berries produced by rough-leafed dogwoods are quickly eaten by songbirds and other wildlife.. Photo credit: megachile, cc-0

This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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