Subshrub, spreading by woody rhizomes 10 - 20 cm tall Leaves: opposite but appear whorled, in clusters of four to six at ends of stems, shiny dark green, 4 - 8 cm long, lance-shaped to oval or inversely egg-shaped with arching (arcuate) veins, sometimes hairy. Leaves turn red in fall. Flowers: borne in dense clusters, surrounded by four to six whitish to purplish petal-like bracts, greenish white, 1 - 2 cm long. Fruit: fleshy with a center seed (drupe), borne in dense clusters, red, 8 mm long.
Similar species: Cornus canadensis has opposite leaves with arching venation, which is characteristic of the genus. However, it is easily distinguished from other dogwoods in the Chicago Region, because it is a low-growing subshrub with red fruit and flowers surrounded by four petal-like bracts.
Flowering: mid May to late June
Habitat and ecology: Very rare in the Chicago Region, this species forms colonies in boggy woods and in organic soil near the transition zone of wet-mesic swamps and shrub and sedge communities.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: This species is sometimes used as an ornamental groundcover.
Etymology: Cornus comes from the Latin word cornu, meaning horn, referring to its hard wood. Canadensis means "from Canada."
Author: The Morton Arboretum
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Found only in Lake and Porter Counties near Lake Michigan. Very rare. I have it only from the Mineral Springs bog in Porter County where it was formerly common. McCaslin's report from Jay County and Scott's report from Kosciusko County no doubt should be referred to some other species, probably to Medeola virginiana.
Shrub 1-5 m, often forming thickets; twigs glabrous, at first green, soon becoming tan and eventually gray-brown; old bark mostly smooth and gray; pith white (tan); lvs lanceolate to elliptic, mostly 4-8 cm, a third to half as wide, abruptly acuminate, cuneate at base, often papillose-whitened beneath, sparsely strigose to glabrous on both sides, with 3 or 4(5) lateral veins to a side; infls often very numerous, convex to often pyramidal and paniculiform; fr at first leaden, becoming white (light blue), 5-8 mm, on reddish pedicels; 2n=22. Moist soil, woods, thickets, roadsides, and streambanks; Me. and s. Que. to s. Man., s. to Va., s. Ill., and Mo., adjoining but only slightly overlapping the range of no. 6 [Cornus stricta Lam.]; the two might well be considered vars. of one sp. (C. paniculata; ? C. foemina, a doubtful name)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.