The dogwood family (Cornaceae) includes about 120 species worldwide, with several native to North America, according to the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees: Eastern Region." Among them is the flowering dogwood, a handsome ornamental tree capable of producing attractive flowers, modified leaves and foliage. Relatives of the flowering dogwood also serve as landscaping plants, coming in various sizes and capable of handling different landscaping duties.
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is one of the smallest of the flowering dogwood’s close relations, growing only to 12 inches. Bunchberry is a viable ground cover for woodland areas, developing native across much of the northern hemisphere at high elevations. Bunchberry has its leaves arranged in a whorled pattern around its stem, with a single flower emerging above the leaves. The berries produced from the flowers are red and grow in bunches. Use bunchberry in moist, cool acidic sites. The plant has the ability to multiply by spreading underground stems.
Landscapers select the black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) to be a street tree or lawn specimen, especially since the flowering dogwood cousin displays colorful fall foliage. Black tupelo grows wild from southern Maine through central Florida, westward to eastern Texas and north to the Great Lakes. Black tupelo grows to 50 feet in full sun, with dark green foliage that changes in autumn to reds, oranges, yellows and purples that the University of Connecticut Plant Database calls "fluorescent." Black tupelo has a dark bark with a block-like pattern about the trunk. Birds eat the fruits that grow on the female specimens. Transplanting this species is difficult, so place it where you intend it to stay.
The distribution of gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) grows from southern New England through the Midwest and into the Great Lakes. Gray dogwood is a shrub capable of establishing itself in many kinds of soils and in both shade and sun. Used as a hedge, as a shrub border or as a tool to provide wildlife with cover and food, gray dogwood grows to 15 feet. The small, white flowers differ dramatically from those of flowering dogwood, emerging in clusters as wide as 2 inches in June. White berries, which birds include as part of their menu, develop from the flowers.
Corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas) is an Asian and European relative of flowering dogwood, growing to about 20 feet tall when mature. Create hedges, screens and small groves from this dogwood, which turns out clusters of tiny, yellow flowers. Place the Corneliancherry dogwood against a darker background for the best possible effect from its late March through April blooming period. The tree often possesses many stems sprouting from a very short main trunk. Corneliancherry dogwood’s bark peels away in strips to show off different shades of gray and tan beneath it. The species survives the cold as far north as U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 4.