Rough-leaved Dogwood

Cornus drummondii C.A. Mey.

Cornus drummondii leaves
Stephen M. Young

Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Rough-leaved dogwood is popular in the horticulture trade where an understory tree or shrub is needed for areas where other flowering trees may not do well because of dry or poor soil. Its habit of producing a dense clone provides cover for birds who are also attracted by its white, juicy fruits. The species is named for Thomas Drummond (1790-1835), a Scottish naturalist and plant explorer who made many plant collections in the United States from 1825-1835.

State Ranking Justification

Currently there are only three known populations in the watershed of Cattaraugus Creek but trends are stable and threats are low. Only one populations is large. Three historical populations have been recorded in the same watershed so this species has always been rare within New York and will likely continue as just a few populations near the state's western border.

Short-term Trends

Only one of the three populations has been resurveyed and the plants are still doing well. The largest population has many plants and is not expected to decline. The trend of the other small population is unknown.

Long-term Trends

The long-term trend is predicted to remain stable since the large landscapes where these plants occur are not expected to change dramatically. There are only a few historical records so this plant will always remain rare in the state.

Conservation and Management


The largest threat to these occurrences would be severe and prolonged flooding of their habitat but it is not expected that this threat would happen very often. The areas where the plants occur are not expected to be developed. Overall, the threats to this plant are very low.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

The hydrologic régimes where these plants occur need to be protected. The forested areas along the rivers and streams need to remain intact.



A shrub that can be found in bottomland thickets, gravelly creek banks, floodplains, low-lying islands within river systems, and seepage areas on slopes and at the bases of slopes (New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). Wet woods and stream banks (Gleason & Cronquist 1991). Banks and thickets, especially along river and borders and borders of woods (Voss 1985). In sandy or clayey soils, along the margins of woods, or near shores of lakes and streams (Soper 1982). Shores and damp woods and thickets (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Floodplain forest (guide)
    A hardwood forest that occurs on mineral soils on low terraces of river floodplains and river deltas. These sites are characterized by their flood regime; low areas are annually flooded in spring, and high areas are flooded irregularly.
  • Riverside sand/gravel bar* (guide)
    A meadow community that occurs on sand and gravel bars deposited within, or adjacent to, a river channel. The community may be very sparsely vegetated, depending on the rates of deposition and erosion of the sand or gravel.
  • Shale cliff and talus community (guide)
    A community that occurs on nearly vertical exposures of shale bedrock and includes ledges and small areas of talus. Talus areas are composed of small fragments that are unstable and steeply sloping; the unstable nature of the shale results in uneven slopes and many rock crevices.
  • Successional shrubland*
    A shrubland that occurs on sites that have been cleared (for farming, logging, development, etc.) or otherwise disturbed. This community has at least 50% cover of shrubs.

* probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Acer negundo
  • Acer rubrum var. rubrum (common red maple)
  • Ageratina altissima var. altissima (common white snakeroot)
  • Apios americana (groundnut)
  • Cornus alternifolia (pagoda dogwood, alternate-leaved dogwood)
  • Equisetum arvense (field horsetail, common horsetail)
  • Fallopia japonica
  • Frangula alnus (glossy buckthorn)
  • Fraxinus americana (white ash)
  • Juglans nigra (black walnut)
  • Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree, tulip poplar, yellow poplar)
  • Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
  • Matteuccia struthiopteris
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia-creeper)
  • Platanus occidentalis (eastern sycamore)
  • Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
  • Populus tremuloides (trembling aspen, quaking aspen)
  • Ptelea trifoliata
  • Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
  • Salix fragilis
  • Toxicodendron radicans ssp. radicans (eastern poison-ivy)
  • Tussilago farfara (colts-foot)
  • Ulmus americana (American elm)
  • Vitis riparia (river grape, frost grape)


New York State Distribution

Most of our known populations are associated with river gorges draining into Lake Erie. It is also known from Goat Island on the Niagara River, but this population is reportedly planted.

Global Distribution

This shrub ranges from western New York and Ontario west to South Dakota, and southward to Georgia and eastern Texas.

Identification Comments

General Description

Rough-leaf dogwood is a clonal thicket-forming shrub that grows three to 20 feet tall. The olive to pinkish-brown twigs are rough to the touch. The leaves are 2-3 inches long, opposite, egg-shaped to elliptical in shape with a long narrow tip. They are distinctly rough to the touch on the upper surface with whiter undersides. There are 4-5 veins that arise on the lower half of each side of the mid-vein. In May or June the small white flowers bloom together in flat or rounded clusters. Slender red fruit stalks support white rounded fruits that ripen in August through October.

Identifying Characteristics

This shrub has brownish to gray branches, with brown (rarely white) slender pith. The leaves are scabrous (rarely smooth) above and pilose-wooly beneath. The fruit is a white, berry-like drupe, 4-8 mm in diameter.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

This dogwood can be identified in leaf but mature fruits are helpful. To allow other to verify the identification, please collect a specimen with leaves and branches, along with fruit or flowers in available. Also make a note on the general habit and habitat of the collected specimen.

Similar Species

Cornus rugosa stems are green and warty, pith is white, leaves have 6-8 lateral veins on each side, and the fruits are blue. Cornus sericea twigs are bright red, pith of two-year-old branches is white, and the stone is dark brown with yellow stripes.

Best Time to See

The leaves emerge in May and flowers in June. Fruits develop in July and mature by early August. These may persist on the shrub until the first frost or until the birds have eaten all fruit. Ideally, field surveys are conducted in August and September when mature fruits are present. However, those familar with the plant could identify it from leave only.

  • Vegetative
  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Rough-leaved Dogwood vegetative, flowering, and fruiting in New York.

Rough-leaved Dogwood Images


Rough-leaved Dogwood
Cornus drummondii C.A. Mey.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Cornales
          • Family Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Additional Common Names

  • Rough-leaf Dogwood


  • Cornus asperifolia Michx. [Misapplied to New York specimens.]
  • Cornus baileyi J.M. Coult. & W.H. Evans
  • Cornus priceae Small

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Soper, James H. and Margaret L. Heimburger. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, 495P.

Voss, E.G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicotyledons. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1212 pp.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York

Weldy, Troy W. and David Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, NY. Available on the web at (


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: January 26, 2009

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Cornus drummondii. Available from: Accessed April 16, 2024.