Seed of the Week: Gray Dogwood

We had some great guesses last week for our mystery seeds, which were a type of dogwood. My guess is gray dogwood, Cornus racemosa based on the flower structures.

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What do you think?

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Whatever type of dogwood it is, the flowers have large open nectaries that attract a wide range of insects. What insects do you see in this photograph?

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Dogwoods of this type would make great additions to butterfly gardens. Not only are they a wonderful nectar source for adult butterflies, they are also host to the larvae of some relatively rare butterflies. If you have a few minutes, you will definitely want to find out about ants tending azure butterfly caterpillars on swamp dogwoods at Nature Posts blog. Fascinating!

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The berries that form in the late summer are food for many birds (list of birds that eat dogwood berries from Illinois) and some mammals, as well. Birds also use these shrubs for nesting and cover.

Gray dogwood grows naturally in the eastern half of North America (distribution map).

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A better close-up of the seeds by Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. The gray dogwood can be grown from seeds.

Do you have a butterfly or wildlife garden? Would you consider adding the gray dogwood?

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