flowering pink dogwood

Flowering pink dogwood. Photo: Richard Floyd, Creative Ideas LLC, Bugwood.org

Updated: August 8, 2022

Key points about dogwood trees

  • Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a small Maryland native tree with white or pink flower bracts in the spring, colorful foliage in the fall, and berries that support wildlife.
  • The key to maintaining the health of your dogwood is to plant it in a suitable location and take proper care of your tree to minimize stress (e.g., water during drought, avoid mulch against the trunk, etc.) 
  • Disease-resistant cultivars are available and reduce the chances of problems such as powdery mildew and spot anthracnose.
  • Besides flowering dogwood, there are other trees or multi-stemmed shrubs in the same genus as dogwood, but less commonly seen in landscapes. They include cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), and bigleaf dogwood (Cornus macrophylla).
cornelian cherry dogwood in bloom with light yellow flowers
Blooming Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus Mas)
Photo: Denise Ellsworth, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Growing dogwoods in Maryland


red dogwood berries
Ripe dogwood berries
Photo: David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is a native forest understory tree found naturally in acidic (pH 5.5-6.5), well-drained soil in semi-shaded areas.

Dogwoods are forest understory trees that grow best in partially shady sites with regular moisture and an annual application of organic matter such as leaf compost.

  • They provide three seasons of interest, with pink or white flower bracts in the spring, red berries in summer, and attractive red to burgundy color in the fall. The flowers and berries support native wildlife such as pollinators, birds, and small mammals.
  • Dogwoods are suitable for partially shaded locations with moist, well-drained soil. They are not tolerant of full sun, hot and dry,  poorly drained sites, or flooding.

Refer to our pages about tree planting and after-planting care.

Spacing and mature size

Typically grows 15’- 30’ tall and 15’- 25’ wide. Check the mature size on the plant label. 


Routine pruning is not necessary.  The removal of dead or diseased branches, to improve form, and to increase light and air circulation throughout the tree are reasons to prune them.

Pruning Trees

Water and Mulch

Water newly planted trees for up to two years after planting.

Dogwood trees are shallow-rooted and do not compete well with turf. They may need irrigation during the drier months of July and August. If overhead irrigation is applied, water early to allow leaf drying before nightfall, which will minimize disease problems.

Apply mulch around the base of the tree to protect the trunk from lawnmowers and weed trimmers. 

Watering Trees and Shrubs



Fertilize according to soil test results and not on a regular basis.


Disease resistant dogwoods

Select disease-resistant dogwood cultivars to reduce the chances of problems with common dogwood diseases. Refer to the table below for recommendations. It is important to note that disease-resistant does not mean immune to disease. Even disease-resistant dogwoods may develop problems if they are planted in an unsuitable environment (full sun, drought, flooding).

The Kousa dogwood (C. kousa), also called Chinese dogwood, has a longer bloom season and different growth characteristics and is more tolerant of dry conditions than the native flowering dogwood. There are several hybrids between the native flowering dogwood and the non-native Kousa dogwood that exhibit better disease resistance and longer bloom periods than the native species. The downside of Kousa dogwood is their berries have little 
wildlife value.
Research your selections prior to purchase. Some cultivars exhibit characteristics that may or may not be desirable to you or wildlife (e.g., double flowers, lack of berries).

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) cultivar name Resistance to powdery mildew Resistance to dogwood anthracnose Resistance to spot anthracnose
'Appalachian Spring'  No


'Appalachian Joy' Yes No No
'Cherokee Brave' Yes No Yes
'Cherokee Chief' No No Yes
'Cherokee Princess' No No Yes
'Jean's Appalachian Snow'


No No
'Karen's Appalachian Blush' Yes No No
'Kay's Appalachian Mist' Yes No No
'Springtime' No No Yes
'Welch's Bay Beauty' No No Yes
Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) cultivar name Resistance to powdery mildew Resistance to dogwood anthracnose Resistance to spot anthracnose
'Big Apple' No Yes No
'China Girl' No Yes No
'Elizabeth Lustgarten' No Yes No
'Gay Head' No Yes No
'Greensleeves' No Yes No
'Julian' No Yes No
'Milky Way' Yes Yes No
'Milky Way Select' Yes No Yes
'National' Yes No Yes
'Steeple' No Yes No
'Temple Jewel' No Yes No


Hybrid dogwood (C. florida x C. kousa) cultivar name Resistance to powdery mildew Resistance to dogwood anthracnose Resistance to spot anthracnose
'Aurora' Yes Yes No
'Celestial' Yes Yes No
'Constellation' Yes Yes No
'Empire' No Yes No
'Pam's Mountain Bouquet' No Yes No
'Red Steeple' No Yes No
'Ruth Ellen' No Yes No
'Stardust' Yes Yes No
'Stellar Pink' Yes Yes Yes

Diagnostic table for dogwood

The details about the abiotic problems and disorders, diseases, and insects of dogwood can be found further down the web page.

Symptoms Details Possible causes
Leaf and Flower Spots

Spots on leaves or flower bracts; 1/8 inch spots or smaller (spring)

Spot Anthracnose (Elsinoe)

Leaf and Flower Spots

Dark spots on leaves and flower bracts; blighted leaves; causes defoliation (spring) 

Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)
Leaf and Flower Spots 1/4 inch angular spots on leaves (fall)

Septoria or Phyllosticta disease

Leaf and Flower Blights

Gray, fuzzy growth on terminal leaves and flowers

Botrytis cinerea
Leaf and Flower Blights Blighted leaves and flowers, causes defoliation Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)
Leaf Yellowing Leaves may also have honeydew and sooty mold Calico Scale or Cottony Maple Scale
Leaf Yellowing  No honeydew Oystershell Scale
White Coating on Leaves May be on upper and lower surfaces (usually spring only); causes early fall color symptoms (purple/red leaf color) Powdery Mildew
Leaf Wilting Terminal leaves die; swelling on twigs Clubgall Midge
Leaves Browning

Browning leaf edges, leaves drooping, wilting

Drought stress, leaf scorch
Early Fall Color (Summer)

General stress. Peeling, cracked bark near the base of the tree, brown leaf edges/wilting purple/red leaf color

Leaf scorch, powdery mildew, drought conditions, poor site conditions (causes tree stress), crown canker
Leaves Eaten or Chewed Sawflies resemble caterpillars (often covered with white powdery material) Dogwood Sawfly
Failure to Flower Begins on lower branches, progresses up into the canopy sometimes Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)
Failure to Flower Damaged flower buds Can be weather or disease-related
Twig Dieback Sunken, discolored areas on twigs Branch Cankers
Twig Dieback Twigs may break off Dogwood Twig Borer
Twig Dieback Leaf yellowing and stunting precede dieback Scale Insects, Armored Scale, Soft Scale
Twig Dieback Swelling near branch tips, terminals die prematurely Clubgall Midge
Twig Dieback Leaf blight, defoliation Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)
Branch Dieback Sunken, discolored areas on twigs Branch Cankers
Branch Dieback Rough, knotty areas on trunk and large branches Dogwood Borer
Branch Dieback Cracked bark near the base of young trees, large branch dieback Flatheaded Apple Tree Borer
Branch Dieback Dieback with leaf blight and defoliation Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)
Branch Dieback Peeling, cracked bark near the base of the tree Crown Canker

Abiotic problems and disorders of dogwood

Leaves browning or wilting

dogwood leaves with brown leaf edges
Leaf scorch symptoms on a dogwood branch.  These symptoms are most likely related to environmental stresses commonly observed on landscape dogwoods planted in full sun.
Photo: Cheryl Kaiser, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org

Leaf scorch

Leaf scorch is a symptom of drought-stressed trees. Scorch symptoms include browning along leaf edges and a dropping or wilted appearance. This occurs when the amount of water leaving the plant (transpiration) exceeds the amount of water uptake by the roots. Leaf scorch alone rarely kills a tree but it can weaken the tree or can make it more susceptible to pests and diseases. Avoid this problem by planting in a location where your tree will receive partial shade and supplemental moisture during hot, dry weather. Soil should be somewhat moist but not saturated.

Early Fall Color (Summer)

Stress will cause leaves to turn red prematurely on individual branches. Causes of stress include:

Leaf scorch, powdery mildewdrought conditions, poor site conditions, crown canker

Stressed trees

wilted dogwood leaves
Drought stressed Cornus sp.
Photo: Brian Kunkel, University of Delaware, Bugwood.org

Trees that are stressed due to unsuitable cultural and environmental conditions are more susceptible to diseases and pest problems.

Diseases of dogwood

Spot Anthracnose (Elsinoe)

spot anthracnose on dogwood
Spot anthracnose leaf symptoms on flowering dogwood
Photo: Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org
  • Spot Anthracnose disease (a different disease than discula anthracnose) can affect both flower bracts and leaves during wet spring weather.
  • The symptoms are characterized by numerous small (1/16 -⅛ inch) spots with purple borders.
  • When numerous, these spots can cause bracts and leaves to become wrinkled and distorted.
  • This is a common disease and is not severe.


Plant cultivars that are resistant to spot anthracnose. 

Treatment in landscape situations is rarely necessary. This is not a severe disease.

Rake and discard symptomatic foliage.

Fungicides will not cure visible symptoms. If spot anthracnose is severe on young trees, they can be protected with a registered fungicide applied in the spring at bud break followed by additional sprays every 7 - 14 days until leaves are fully expanded.

Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula)

Discula anthracnose on dogwood
Dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva) symptoms on flowering dogwood
Photo: John Hartman, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org
  • In the past, this anthracnose disease was the most serious disease of dogwoods in the landscape and our forests but it is now less common. It causes dieback or even death of infected trees.
  • The early symptoms begin in mid to late May as leaf spots with tan or purple borders. In wet weather, these spots can rapidly enlarge and kill the entire leaf. These blighted, drooping leaves can remain hanging on the branches in wet weather before defoliation occurs. 
  • The disease spreads from infected leaves into the twigs and branches and can cause dieback of the limbs.
  • Young green stems and water sprouts are especially susceptible.
  • Dark cankers will cause stem girdling and dieback.
  • On older branches, the wood under the bark will appear dark brown in contrast to healthy light-colored wood. 
  • If the dieback reaches the main trunk the entire tree can be killed.
  • To distinguish this disease from other leaf spots, examine the underside of the leaves (with a hand lens or magnifying glass) for numerous small tan to brown dots, about the size of a printed period, scattered within the blighted tissue.
  • These dots are the source of spores that will be washed away by rain or dew, or spread by insects to healthy leaves and neighboring trees.
  • The disease overwinters in twig and stem cankers that initiate new infections in the spring.


Avoid digging native trees from the woods and transplanting them into landscapes. This practice can introduce the disease into a neighborhood that was previously disease-free.

Plant disease-resistant cultivars of flowering dogwoods. Tartarian dogwood (Cornus alba), redosier dogwood (C. sericea), and Cornelian cherry (C. mas) also are resistant to this disease.

Avoid over-application of fertilizer which can result in succulent new growth with greater susceptibility to disease. 

Prune out all dead or dying twigs and limbs during dry weather. All water sprouts or suckers on trunks and branches should also be removed. 

In the fall, rake and remove fallen leaves. Remove any dead leaves still attached to the branches.

Registered fungicides can be utilized on trees in landscapes in the spring at bud break, followed by additional sprays every 10-14 days until leaves are fully expanded. Trees should also be sprayed once in the fall after the leaves have changed color but before leaf drop.


Other leaf spots Septoria cornicola and Phyllosticta

septoria leaf spot on dogwood
Dogwood septoria leaf spot (Septoria cornicola). Photo: Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org
  • Other leaf spots appear in late summer and fall on the upper leaf surfaces but rarely cause much damage.
  • The dark spots are circular to angular in shape with purple borders and are about ¼ inch in diameter.
  • Occasionally, very small black dots are visible inside these spots that indicate where the infectious spores are formed.
  • Under severe conditions, the dogwood fruit may become discolored and shriveled.


Generally, no chemical controls are needed for these late-season diseases. 

Rake and dispose of leaves in the fall to reduce disease incidence.


Leaf and petal blight (Botrytis cinerea)

botrytis blight on dogwood
Leaf and flower blight (Botrytis sp.) on flowering dogwood
Photo: Penn State Department of Plant Pathology & Environmental Microbiology Archives, Penn State University, Bugwood.org
  • Botrytis, a fungal disease, can be serious during wet spring weather.
  • The symptoms range from a spotting of the flower bracts to a complete collapse of the bracts.
  • Infected bracts eventually become covered with a gray fuzzy growth of fungus.
  • This symptom gives this fungal organism the common name ‘gray mold’.
  • Infected bracts that fall onto leaves can also cause leaf and twig infections.


Generally, no chemical controls are needed for this disease because drier weather will stop disease progression before serious damage occurs.

Powdery mildew

powdery mildew on dogwood
Powdery mildew on flowering dogwood
Photo: John Hartman, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org
powdery mildew (Erysiphe) on dogwood
Powdery mildew (Erysiphe sp.) symptoms on flowering dogwood
Photo: Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org
  • Powdery mildew (Erysiphe and Phyllactinia guttata) has become a more severe and widespread problem in recent years.
  • It appears as a powdery white coating on the leaves from early summer through fall. In some years the powdery appearance is less evident.
  • Under severe conditions, the new leaves can exhibit leaf scorch, twisting, distortion, and smaller than normal growth.
  • Older infected leaves often develop purple blotches that progress to dead areas.
  • Infections cause the loss of water and photosynthetic leaf area which weakens trees and reduces growth.


Select powdery mildew-resistant cultivars of flowering dogwood. 

Place susceptible plants where there is adequate sunlight and good air circulation to reduce humidity levels. Allow proper plant spacing. 

Pruning for better air circulation may help. Pruning of dogwoods can be done in late fall/early winter (November-December) or after the trees are finished flowering in the spring.

If disease symptoms are severe, especially on young trees, spraying a  fungicide labeled for this disease on dogwood is an option. Spray at bud break in the spring, followed by additional sprays every two weeks as needed throughout the season.

Twig and branch cankers

blacked area on the branch of red twig dogwood
Branch canker on red twig dogwood
Photo: University of Maryland Extension


(Botryosphaeria sp. and Diplodia sp.)

  • Although this disease is rarely serious it can cause limb dieback.
  • Diseased sections on twigs and small branches begin as small discolored areas with sunken or cracked bark.
  • The fungus Botryosphaeria appears to be more severe on pink flowering cultivars. 


Healthy trees are less susceptible to these diseases. Maintain healthy trees by irrigating during drought and avoiding over-fertilization to prevent excessive succulent growth. 

There are no effective chemical controls for this disease once diagnosed, so prune out infected branches promptly.

Crown canker

(Phytophthora cactorum and P. cinnamomi)

  • This serious disease of dogwoods usually results from an injury to the bark near the base of the trunk that is invaded by this fungus-like organism called a water mold.
  • Early symptoms include smaller than normal leaves, pale green leaves, and early red fall coloration, especially on individual branches along one side of the tree.
  • Eventually, the entire tree may show these symptoms.
  • When a canker completely girdles the trunk, the tree will die shortly thereafter. In the early stages, the canker can be hard to find, but if cut into, will reveal discolored wood under the bark.
  • As the canker enlarges it will form a sunken area on the trunk and the bark will dry and crack, exposing the wood underneath.


Avoid buying trees with wounded bark. Bark injuries can occur when the plants are dug at the nursery, shipped, or moved around within the retail sales yard.

The best way to avoid this disease is to prevent wounds or damage to the trunk. Maintain a mulched, weed-free area around dogwoods to prevent injury from mowers and string trimmers.

There are no chemical fungicide controls for this disease once symptoms are visible.

 Do not replant dogwood trees in the same spot that a diseased tree was growing. 

Insect pests of dogwood

Dogwood borer

black and yellow clearwing moth of dogwood
Dogwood Borer on leaf (Synanthedon scitula) Adult
Photo: David Laughlin, Horticultural Student, Bugwood.org
  • The dogwood borer(Synanthedon scitula) is the major pest of dogwood. It most frequently attacks trees that are stressed or injured.
  • The adult is a day-flying clearwing moth (photo above).
  • It is about 3/8 inch long, blue-black with two yellow bands around the abdomen, and resembles a wasp. 
  • Adults emerge from dogwood trees around mid-May and continue throughout most of the summer.
  • The female moth lays her eggs on the bark of the tree and is particularly attracted to injured bark, scars, and other rough areas on the trunk. 
  • Upon hatching, the young caterpillar finds a suitable place to enter the tree such as a wound, scar, woody gall, or branch crotch. It will feed just under the bark in the cambium layer.
  • The full-grown caterpillar is white with a pale brown head, and about 5/8 inch long. There is one generation each year.
  • The caterpillar overwinters in its burrow under the bark and pupates in the spring.
  • When the dogwood borer moth emerges, the brown pupal skin is frequently left behind in the exit hole, indicating the presence of this pest.


  • Small, wet areas on the bark, dead branches, adventitious growth (water sprouts on the trunk and large branches), or sloughing, and cracking of bark can all be symptoms of dogwood borer attack.
  • Small trees or individual branches can be girdled and killed in one to two seasons.
  • Larger trees with ongoing infestations often develop rough, knotty areas on the trunk and large branches, and may lack vigor.


Prevention by keeping the tree as healthy as possible, such as watering during a drought, is recommended. 

Prune out infested branches if possible. Insert a wire into an active borer hole to pierce the larva. Avoid wounding the tree bark. 

Dogwood twig borer

cream colored larva inside of a dogwood branch
Dogwood twig borer larvae
Photo: Jim Baker, North Carolina State University, Bugwood.org
  • The dogwood twig borer (Oberea tripunctata) is a less serious pest of dogwood.
  • The adult is an elongate (5/8 inch long) beetle with long antennae.
  • This beetle has yellow/tan wing covers with a black line down the center and along the margins. There are two distinctive black dots just behind the head.
  • The adult beetle emerges from infested twigs in the spring and the female lays her eggs in healthy twigs.
  • The yellowish larva that hatches from the egg begins tunneling in the pith, boring down the center of the twig, occasionally making a series of holes to the surface through which it expels sawdust.
  • As the larva tunnels, the twig may break off or wilt behind it.
  • There is only one generation each year, with the larva overwintering inside the twig.
brown branch - flagging on dogwood - twig borer
Flagging of a branch caused by dogwood twig borer infestation
Photo: James Solomon, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org


Infested twigs should be clipped off several inches below the girdled or infested portion and destroyed. This should be done after wilting occurs and before adult emergence in the spring. This insect usually does not cause serious problems.

Flatheaded apple tree borer

damage caused by flatheaded apple tree borer
Damage (here shown on red maple) caused by flatheaded apple tree borer
Photo: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
  • The flatheaded appletree borer attacks a wide variety of shade and fruit trees. On dogwood, it can be a serious problem on young trees that are planted too deeply and on stressed, older trees. 
  • The adult beetle is 1/2 inch long, oval, flattened, greenish bronze above, and brassy below. The wing covers have wavy, light-colored indentations.
  • The adults may be seen running over the bark of trees and fly away when disturbed.
  • Adults appear in summer and feed on the foliage of host trees.
  • They lay eggs under bark plates or in bark crevices on the main trunk or larger branches.
  • The larvae bore into the tree and feed in the phloem (tissues that move plant foods produced by leaves) and outer sapwood.
  • Larvae are called flatheaded borers because of the enlarged, flattened area behind the small, blackhead.
  • They are creamy colored and excavate large, irregular tunnels in the phloem on the main trunk and larger branches that die back first.
  • Mature larvae overwinter in cells in the outer wood and pupate in the spring. There is one generation each year.
  • The larvae may be found boring into the base of these trees. Small trees are often killed.
  • Large trees are seriously injured from the dieback of branches and the loss of large patches of bark over mined areas on the trunk.


Maintaining good tree health is the best way to prevent flatheaded appletree borer. Plant trees at the proper depth and in the best conditions possible. It is essential that young trees receive adequate water during establishment.

Dogwood Sawfly

dogwood sawfly larva
Mature dogwood sawfly
Photo: Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org
  • The dogwood sawfly is an occasional pest of dogwood.
  • The larvae (young insects) resemble caterpillars and feed on the foliage of several species of dogwood and are most commonly seen on shrub dogwoods [e.g., silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), red osier dogwood (C. sericea)].
  • Adult sawflies, which resemble tiny wasps, emerge during late spring and early summer.
  • The female lays eggs on the undersides of the leaves.
  • Upon hatching, the young larvae feed together and chew the leaf.
  • As they grow, they will eat all of the leaf except the midrib.
  • After the second molt, the larvae become covered with a white powdery material.
  • After their final molt, they lose the powdery covering and change color. The mature larvae are yellowish with a shiny black head and black spots.
  • These mature larvae will wander about in search of an overwintering site, generally in soft or decaying wood. There is one generation each year.
white larvae of dogwood sawfly
Pre-final instar larvae are covered with a white powder which may mimic bird-droppings
Photo: Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org


Management is seldom needed, but if desired, wear gloves and manually remove and discard the larvae. 

If an infestation is heavy, particularly on a young plant, the larvae may be sprayed with horticultural oil registered for landscape use. Apply according to the label instructions.

Calico scale

calico scale
Calico scale infestation
Photo: Raymond Gill, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Bugwood.org
  • Female calico scale insects are very conspicuous in May. They are large (1/4 inch long), black and white-spotted and swollen. They are found on twigs and branches.
  • By mid-June, they die, shrivel, and turn brown. Eggs hatch at this time and tiny white crawlers settle on leaf veins. These immature scales turn yellow and feed on the leaves during the summer. They move onto the bark to overwinter.


This scale is usually controlled by beneficial insects and generally does not require spraying. 

If it is necessary to control high populations, apply a horticultural oil (2% summer rate) or insecticidal soap spray during the summer. 

During the dormant season (when leaves have fallen from deciduous trees)  apply a horticultural oil (4% dormant rate) to control overwintering immature scales.



Cottony Maple Scale

cottony maple scale
Cottony maple scale
Photo: Kansas Department of Agriculture , Bugwood.org
  • The cottony maple scale is easiest to find in May and June.
  • During this time, ¼ inch long white ovisacs may be found on branches and twigs.
  • Ovisacs are white, cottony masses that contain eggs. Crawlers hatch in June and settle on leaves to feed. 
  • Examine the undersides of leaves for the flat, yellow, immature scales along the leaf veins. They will be found where honeydew and/or sooty mold (a fungus that grows on honeydew) are present. Adult female scales are 3/16 inch long, black, flat, and oval. There is one generation each year and immatures overwinter on the twigs.


If it is necessary to control cottony maple scale, apply a horticultural oil (2% summer rate) or insecticidal soap spray during the summer. 

During the dormant season (when leaves have fallen from deciduous trees)  apply a horticultural oil (4% dormant rate) to control overwintering immature scales.

Oystershell scale

oystershell scale
Oystershell scale
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
  • This is an armored (hard) scale and, unlike the cottony maple and calico scales, it does not produce honeydew. Heavy infestations of this scale may cause yellowing, wilting and eventually branch dieback.
  • To monitor for this pest, look for tiny (1/8 inch long), oystershell shaped, and brown to gray scale covers on the bark of wilting or dead branches. There may be one or two generations a year. 
  • Crawlers are present in May. They are about the size of a pinhead and light-colored. Look for the crawlers near the old scale covers.
  • They do not settle on the leaves but stay to feed on the twigs and branches.


Prune out heavily infested branches. A dormant oil spray may be applied in late winter. Be sure to thoroughly cover all of the branches. 

It is much easier to spray the trees for all of the scale insects listed in late winter to control the overwintering scales. Spraying during the dormant season also lessens the impact on beneficial insects that are present during the spring and summer.

A summer rate (2%) spray of horticultural oil may be used in summer, if necessary.

Dogwood clubgall midge

galls on dogwood leaf
Dogwood gall midge swellings (Craneiobia corni)
Photo: Milan Zubrik, Forest Research Institute - Slovakia, Bugwood.org
  • The dogwood clubgall midge is responsible for spindle-shaped swellings near the tips of dogwood twigs.
  • The adult midge is a small, delicate, brown fly. The adult midges emerge in May and the female deposits eggs in new terminal leaves.
  • The newly hatched larvae, or maggots, work their way into the developing twig. As the yellow-orange maggots grow, the tissue swells around them forming the characteristic gall. 
  • The first evidence of the presence of the clubgall midge may be a wilted, deformed leaf.
  • A light infestation will cause little harm, but a heavy infestation can stunt a tree. The galled twigs and terminals die prematurely and flowering is reduced. 


Prune out and destroy the galls in summer before the maggots drop to the ground to pupate in the fall. This insect usually does not cause serious problems.

By Mary Kay Malinoski, Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension (retired) and By David L. Clement, Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Home and Garden Information Center. 

Edited and revised by Christa K. Carignan, Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension, 12/2019.

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