Mariton: Alternate-leaved Dogwood

May 31, 2014

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Right now the Alternate-leaved Dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) are blooming at Mariton.  There is an easy to find tree on the edge of the meadows.  This is not a common species, but I have been finding it more the last few years.  There are patches of small seedlings about Mariton’s woods.  I have also found some saplings here and there.

Alternate-leaved Dogwood

You can see that the flowers are very different than the more common Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).  The big white bracts (they aren’t actually petals) of the Flowering Dogwood are missing.  The leaves of the two species, however, look similar.  In the fall, the berries will be blue or black, while the Flowering Dogwood’s berries will be a brilliant red.

Dogwoods are in a small group of native trees in which the branches, or leaves, grow off of the main stem opposite of each other – instead of alternately down the stem.  The Alternate-leaved Dogwood is an exception to that rule.