Dog-gone Dogwood

On 4-6-2019 this group visited the Ansin Tract Conservation Area, a 29-acre property near the headwaters of the St. Sebastian River to check out the new trails and the wetland crossover bridge recently installed by Indian River County …

One the new bridge Linda Chancellor (Class of 2010) spotted this swamp dogwood (Cornus foemina).  Also known as stiff dogwood, this small tree (to 25′) grows in moist places throughout the southeastern U.S. and along the eastern seaboard to New Jersey.  No, it does not resemble the iconic dogwoods of the South.

Its opposite leaves are elliptical in shape, often with wavy leaf margins.  Lateral veins follow the leaf margins.

Flat-topped clusters (cymes) of creamy white fragrant flowers bloom in the spring.  Bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, beetles, and other insects are attracted to the nectar and pollen.

Unripe single-seeded fruits (drupes) were present, too.  They will be blue-black when ripe and are consumed (and spread) by birds, raccoons, squirrels, black bears, and other mammals.   White-tailed deer forage on the foliage.

Swamp dogwood does not grow at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.  It prefers moist acid soils,     and, if you have those conditions in your yard, would make an excellent addition for pollinators, wildlife, diversity, and beauty.