Shrub Identification Practice

Shrub ID

Last week’s focus in my Plants of Ontario course was shrubs! We reviewed terminology specific to shrubs and on a rainy day we went into the lab to learn how to use the Shrubs of Ontario book. All of the plant samples used in this specific lab were hand-picked by one of the instructors earlier in the day with the intention that they be used for identification practice.

The wild black currant, Ribes americanum. A member of the Glossulariaceae family.

The Wild Black Currant grow to be around 2m, or 6ft, in height, and blooms yellow-greenish bell-shaped and tubular flowers with five petals in May – June.

Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa. A member of the Adoxaceae family.

The Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa. The red elderberry grows best in forest understory where animals can act as seed dispersers. This shrub grows to be around 3ft in height, and flowers in Spring.

Alternate-leafed Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia. A member of the Cornaceae family.

This is the Alternate-leafed Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, the only Dogwood that does not have an opposite leaf arrangement. It is a member of the Cornaceae family, also known as the Dogwood family. The standout feature of this specific species is in the leaf arrangement as the alternate-leafed dogwood is the only dogwood with alternate leaves and branches. This species is native to southern Ontario and is common in forest understory as the shrub enjoys moist soils.

Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera. A member of the Cornaceae family.

This is the Red Osier Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera. As you can see, the stem of this sample is a red colour, the stand-out feature of the red osier. The red osier dogwood grows best in moist soils and produces the most fruit in full sun. Generally, dogwood shrubs are good for erosion control as their roots spread and bind soil together.


Gray Dogwood, Cornus racemosa. A member of the Cornaceae family.


The Gray Dogwood, Cornus racemosa. The Gray Dogwood can be grown as one a single trunked tree instead of a multi-stemmed shrub with some extra care and attention. This shrub enjoys both the sun and shade, and grows in various soils. The gray dogwood gets its name from the gray bark, which is contrasted by multicoloured leaves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s