Some days you long for something bright and beautiful in the woods, to flush away a gloomy mood or break the monotony of a gray day. Today was one of those drab, drippy days, nothing special going on, except for the drone of dreary news on the radio.
Here is what cast away any glum thoughts I had today - a bright and beautiful flower-fruit stalk of the red-panicled dogwood (Cornus racemosa). A panicle is essentially a multi-branched flower. Doesn't it just lift your spirits, with its bright red panicles?
The white fruits of this dogwood are loved by birds, so not a one is left on the shrub. Another name for this shrub is gray dogwood. Now you see why I prefer red-panicled! It is often found in moist soils in swamps, along streams, or in other wet places. Sometimes it does well in drier places too. It makes a nice yard shrub, but forms a thicket so give it space.
We have other common dogwoods in our woods and wetlands including silky and red-osier, but look for the red panicles and you'll know what you've got. And it will brighten your day.