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For Your Garden - December 2021

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)
Photo © John Hilty

Gray dogwood grows in moist woods, upland woods, prairies and roadsides throughout the state. It is a shrub that may reach eight feet in height. Flowers are produced from May through July. The flowers are white and develop in clusters at the stem tips. The twigs are thin and gray. The fruits are spherical, fleshy and white and contain one or two seeds. Many species of pollinators are attracted to the flowers for pollen and nectar. Birds and small mammals feed on the fruits. The plant and its leaves are eaten by mammals and insects. Birds often nest in its branches.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Cornales
Family: Cornaceae

Illinois Status: common, native