Cornus foemina

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: stiff dogwood 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Cornaceae
Native Range: United States and Canada
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 8.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil


Best grown in evenly moist to wet, rich, loamy soils in full sun. Will adapt to a variety of soil types including sandy and clayey. Tolerant of some light shade. Hardy in Zones 6-10.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cornus foemina, commonly called stiff dogwood or swamp dogwood, is a variable sized, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub or small tree native to marshes, swales, swamps, seeps, peatlands, bottomland forests, and the banks of waterways in the eastern United States from the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain and the lower Midwest south to the Gulf Coast. Mature plants can reach 8-20' tall with a 10-20' spread and have a rounded growth habit. This dogwood species does not have spreading rhizomes. The twig ends are bright red (green in shade) and the mature bark is grey-brown. The oppositely arranged, ovate to ovate-lanceolate leaves will reach up to 4" long and 2.25" wide. Terminal, flat-topped clusters of blooms will reach 1-3" long. The creamy white, four-petaled flowers bloom from spring into early summer and are followed by round, 0.25" wide fruits that mature from green to blue. The fruits are attractive to birds and other animals. Synonymous with C. stricta. Similar in appearance to C. amomum (silky dogwood) but can be distinguished by the color of the pith of the young twigs which is white in C. foemina and brown in C. amomum.

Genus name comes from the Latin word cornus meaning "horn", possibly in reference to the strength and density of the wood. Cornus is also the Latin name for cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). May also be related to the Greek kerasos meaning "cherry".

The specific epithet foemina means "feminine" or "female". This name was originally used to describe C. sanguinea until Linnaeus altered the nomenclature. The name foemina was later applied to this plant, a somewhat similar shrubby species.


No serious insect or disease problems. Plants are susceptible to scale. Additional insect pests include borers and leaf miner. Infrequent disease problems include leaf spot, crown canker, blights, root rot and powdery mildew.


Good shrub for moist to wet areas of the landscape. Not overly ornamental. Somewhat unkempt for placement in prominent areas. Good selection for moist woodlands, naturalized areas, along steams/ponds or for erosion control.