Cornus rugosa (Round-leaved Dogwood)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Cornaceae (Dogwood)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; upland deciduous and mixed forest, thickets, rocky slopes
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:6 to 10 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flat to rounded top clusters, 1 to 2¾ inches broad, of short-stalked flowers at the tips of branches. Flowers are creamy white, about ¼ inch across with 4 lance-elliptic petals, the sepals minute. The 4 stamens are longer than the petals, spreading to ascending around the single white style at center.

Leaves and bark: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf] Leaves are simple and opposite, 2-6 inches long by 1½-4 inches wide, broadly elliptical to nearly round, the tip abruptly tapered to a short point, the base rounded to a1/3 to ¾ inch stalk. The upper surface is dark green with short appressed hairs and 6 to 9 evenly spaced, lateral veins per side, the lower surface paler with longer, soft hairs. Edges are smooth.

[photo of twig] Twigs are greenish to reddish brown or purplish, flecked with darker pigments, mostly smooth or with very fine, often scattered hairs. Older bark on the lower stems is greenish or brownish gray and roughish from old lenticels (pores).

[photo of multiple stems] Stems are single or multiple from the ground, mostly straight and nearly simple with spreading branches above. The spreading root system readily suckers, creating colonies.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round, berry like drupe, about ¼ inch diameter, white or with a blueish flush, the cluster stalks a dull red often retaining reddish, aborted fruit.


The dogwoods are distinguished from other flowering shrubs by the clusters of small, 4-petaled white flowers and opposite (except for 1 species) leaves that are toothless and have prominent, arching, lateral veins. Like our other dogwoods, Round-leaved Dogwood is an understory species of upland forest, both hardwood and conifer. Semi-shade tolerant, it prefers thinner canopies or openings and wood margins. The leaves may be confused with those of Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), which are typically not as broad, are alternate, and have 5 or 6 veins per side, where Round-leaved Dogwood leaves have 6 to 9 veins per side, are opposite and typically much rounder, plus the shrub's form lacks the layered branches of Pagoda Dogwood.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aikin and Pine counties. Pollinator photos courtesy Heather Holm.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: John B - southern Lake County
on: 2017-09-03 12:28:25

We discovered this shrub next to our parking area. It is on the edge of the very rocky hill about 300 feet from and maybe 80 fee above Crow Creek. We have at least two and have not looked for more.

Posted by: cheryl b - Elm Creek Park Reserve
on: 2017-09-16 06:15:47

I found this on a northern slope not too far from a marsh in Elm Creek. I was wondering what the dogwood looking plant with green stalks was!

Posted by: Joe D F - WI
on: 2018-01-03 18:15:25

I had never seen this plant in some 30 years of trudging about until this summer when here (in, sorry,SE Wisconsin)I noticed an extensive number of them on a slope covering abundant large-flowered trillium and blue cohosh----a very handsome plant.

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Twp
on: 2018-08-14 04:56:37

I have many of these in my wooded area. Finally identified which type of dogwood this year. Pretty when blooming in the spring.

Posted by: Brenda Smyth - Southeastern Itasca County
on: 2020-08-29 16:38:38

We have many round leaved dogwoods on our lot on Hart Lake, near Goodland. They are growing on steep hillsides under red and white pines. They often are infected with galls and there is a lot of dieback. But new shoots keep coming from the base. The birds love the berries.

Posted by: Math - Ely
on: 2022-06-18 05:01:01

Popped up in my folks garden exactly at the right place. We managed to get one trunk with a nice crown. Flowers are fragrant. Some years it gets decimated by a beetle but it pops right back next year. Favorite tree by far.

Posted by: Terry O'Brien - Deer River
on: 2022-07-01 22:45:29

Along both sides of west end of Orange Lake Road off Co. Rd. 48, Suomi Hills, north of Deer River.

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2023-05-19 18:06:45

In Fall 2021, I planted some seeds of this in the yard. About 1/10th of the seeds came up in Spring 2022. Many more have come up this Spring (2023)--maybe just over half altogether are now up. So it only comes up when and where it wants--which has been entertaining to watch. It may be my favorite plant. It's unusual.

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