silky dogwood (Cornus amomum)
Swida amomum (Mill.) Small
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of silky dogwood
is Cornus amomum Mill.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Silky dogwood is a
medium-sized deciduous shrub that typically grows to 6-12’ tall with an
upright, open-rounded form. If stems are in contact with the ground, roots
are formed. This behavior creates thickets. Young silky dogwoods have
bright red stems in the fall, winter and early spring, which turn reddish-
brown in the summer. As the shrub matures, the stems turn reddish-
brown year-round and later gray. Twigs and leaf undersides have silky
hairs, hence the common name. Twigs are purplish brown in spring turn-
ing reddish brown with a brown pith. There are white lenticels on the twigs.
Leaves are opposite, oval to elliptic in sahpe, light to medium green, 2-5”
long, having conspicuous, arcuate veins. Silk dogwood has tiny yellowish-
white flowers (showy petal-like white bracts are absent) in flat-topped
clusters (cymes to 2.5” across) bloom in late spring to early summer.
Flowers give way to attractive berry-like drupes that change from white
to blue as they ripen in late summer (August). Attractive fall color is usual-
REGENERATION PROCESS: Silky dogwood propogates itself by
primarily by reseeding. If branches touch the ground, they may root at
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Silky dogwood performs best in soils that
are moist, somewhat poorly drained, moderately acidic to neutral, and in
areas that have light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and
can grow in heavy clay soil. It is highly tolerant of shade (tolerating close
to full shade) but not of droughty conditions.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Insufficient information is available concern-
ing successional status. However, when located in appopriate site, silky dog-
wood can sustain itself in initial and mid- successional growing stages and
its tolerance for shade allows it to continue to thrive in more mature canopy
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: It is in flower in mid June to July and
bluish colored fruit which matures in September.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Silky dogwood is naturally distributed
throughout the eastern parts of the United States, from Florida to Maine,
and extending extending west to the Mississippi/Missouri Rivers (only
occurring west of these rivers in Arkansas and Missouri). It has not been
reported naturally occurring in any Canadian province.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Shrub specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Silky dogwood is
typically found in moist lowland areas, swamp borders, marshes, flood-
plains, shrub wetlands, and along streams, rivers and ponds in Eastern
North America. When left alone, this shrub may spread to form thickets.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Birds are attracted to the fruit.
The primary use of this species is for field and farmstead windbreaks and
wildlife borders. It is also being used with willows for streambank protec-
tion. Other beneficial uses are for fish and wildlife habitat improvement,
slope stabilization, borders, and as an ornamental.
Good shrub for moist to wet areas of the landscape. Not overly ornamental.
Somewhat wild and unkempt for placement in prominent areas. Good selec-
tion for moist woodlands, naturalized areas, along steams/ponds or for
Crooked Run Valley