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(Cornus alternifolia)
Alternate-leaf Dogwood

Host Plant: Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon), the Io Moth (Automeris io), and the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Nectar Plant: many insects including other butterflies, Andrena bees, wasps, and beetles.

Flower Color: yellow to white

Growth Habit: deciduous small tree

Flowering Time: May to June

Range in North America: Mid-west and eastern United States and Canada

Exposure: Prefers full sun to partial shade

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Soil Requirements: medium well-drained soils

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Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

White flowers of alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).

White Flowers of Alternate-leaf Dogwood — Laval University, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alternative Names

Alternateleaf Dogwood, Pagoda Dogwood, Green Osier

Description of Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), a member of the Cornaceae (Dogwood Family), is a deciduous small tree that grows from 15′ to 25′ tall and blooms in the spring and early summer (May to June).  This plant grows in places with full sun or partial shade in mesic conditions and is often found in forests and forest edges.  More information on this species can be found on this blog post.

Hosted Species

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) on a leaf.

Spring Azure Butterfly on Leaf — ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Io Moth (Automeris io)

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) on a branch.

Cecropia Moth on Branch — Marvin Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

The flowers are enjoyed by Andrena bees.  Birds enjoy and the fruits in the fall.


This species grows in the understories of mixed deciduous forests.

Range of Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) in the United States and Canada

Range map of alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternfolia) in the United States and Canada.

Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) is native to the eastern mid-west and the eastern United States and Canada.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Cornus, comes from the Latin word, “Cornu” meaning horn (Missouri Botanical Garden).  This describes the tough wood of the members of the genus.  The species name, alternifolia, is Latin for “alternate” and describes the alternate leaves, which distinguishes this species from other members of the genus.


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Alternate-leaf Dogwood”

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