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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

Dogwoods, shrub

  • Cornus spp.
  • Gray dogwood, Redosier dogwood, Roughleaf dogwood, Silky dogwood, Stiff dogwood, Swamp dogwood

Woody

Winter cover Summer coverEscape coverFood
Shrub dogwoods are common in fence lines

Shrub dogwoods are common in fence lines and along forest edges. Individual plants are rather short (less than 12 feet tall) and somewhat rounded.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation
 

Scattered dogwood thickets in association with native grass/forb communities are likely to attract bobwhite coveys

Scattered dogwood thickets in association with native grass/forb communities are likely to attract bobwhite coveys. Covey headquarters is the term used to describe a bobwhite covey's base of operation in the fall and winter. Missouri research has demonstrated that the average distance quail will venture from this cover in winter is about 70 feet.

Rob Chapman, Missouri Department of Conservation

Shrub dogwoods often form extensive thickets

Shrub dogwoods often form extensive thickets. The height and stem density provide outstanding summer and winter thermal cover as well as escape cover from predators. An open understory is a requisite for covey headquarters, as is size. Research suggests that headquarters thickets should cover an area of about 1,500 square feet to increase the likelihood of covey use. Heights of 3 to 12 feet are preferred.

Rob Chapman, Missouri Department of Conservation

Fruits of the shrub dogwood
Fruits of the shrub dogwoods are white or bluish drupes, normally occurring in clusters.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Description

These dogwoods are thicket-forming shrubs that can grow up to 12 feet tall. Stems consist of many irregular branched and interlaced twigs that form a dense canopy. Flowers are borne in terminal, long-stalked clusters, which develop into white to gray, globe-shaped fruits that mature in autumn. The leaves are simple, opposite and egg- to lance-shaped. Shrub dogwoods occur throughout the Midwest on many soil types and moisture regimes.

Bloom period

May to July

Use by bobwhites

Shrub dogwoods — particularly roughleaf dogwood, gray dogwood and swamp dogwood — serve as excellent covey headquarters. The dense canopy afforded by the tightly interlaced twigs provides a nearly impenetrable barrier to avian predators. The closed, shaded canopy also reduces the amount of ground vegetation, providing essential bare ground and relief from summer heat. In fall, bobwhites readily consume the seeds. During winter, the tightly woven twigs reduce snow and ice accumulation. Shrub dogwoods and American plum should be familiar to any land manager with an interest in providing high-­quality habitat for bobwhites.
 

MP903, new May 2008

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MP903 Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest | Page 13 | University of Missouri Extension