A much-branched, deciduous shrub 8 or 10 ft high, of bushy habit, with greyish bark; young shoots glabrous. Leaves opposite, ovate-lanceolate, wedge-shaped at the base, long and slender pointed, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, half as wide; dark green above, pale or whitish beneath; both surfaces at first furnished with flattened, minute hairs, which largely fall away by autumn; veins in three or four pairs. Flowers small, white, borne in great profusion in June and July, in short cymose panicles about 2 in. wide, terminating every twig. Fruit white, roundish, but depressed at the top, 1⁄4 in. diameter; the stalks bright red.
Native of the eastern and central United States; introduced in 1758. As a latish flowering shrub this cornel has much to recommend it, for it is usually laden with blossom shortly after midsummer. Unfortunately it does not set its fruit here with the freedom that makes it so attractive in the United States. It is neater and less rampant in growth than those of the alba and stolonifera groups.
Between C. racemosa and C. obliqua (see under C. amomum) there is a hybrid called C. × arnoldiana Rehd. It originated in the Arnold Arboretum about the end of last century. Compared with racemosa, it is of more spreading habit; the year-old branches are purple; inflorescence less elongated; leaf downy beneath; fruit bluish. Introduced in 1907. (Sargent’s Trees and Shrubs, t. 40).
C. stricta Lam. is closely related to C. racemosa, and has similar foliage. It differs in having purplish or reddish-brown twigs, and pale blue fruits. Native of the eastern U.S.A. from Virginia southwards; sometimes 16 ft high. C. foemina Mill, is an ambiguous name which has been used both for this species and for C. racemosa.