Cornus sericea

Known both as C. sericea and C. stolonifera, our native Red Osier or Red Twig Dogwood is one of our most beautiful shrubs and is ideal for the wetter parts of your garden.

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea: Red Twig Dogwood

The outstanding red winter stem color that gives this plant its name and distinct beauty is only one, albeit the most dramatic, of its virtues; it is, in fact, a plant with four-season interest and great wildlife value.

Mid-spring to summer finds this shrub in bloom – frothy white clusters of tiny flowers ride the ends of the branches, giving way to white or bluish white berry-like fruits that are not particularly appetizing to the human palate, but that will draw birds to your garden in numbers, and are also a striking contrast to the stems and the foliage – which in the fall, turns various shades of red to red-orange, making it a blaze of color.

Cornus sericea leaves and inflorescence 2003-08-11

Red Twig Dogwoods need plenty of space. Horizontal stems at the base of the plant root when nodes come into contact with the ground, and form a thicket. This ability, along with its berries, make it an excellent habitat plant for birds, providing both food and shelter. It also provides a quickly-established hedgerow and potential screening plant.

If you don’t want it to spread as readily, keep it in a partially shady spot with more “normal” garden water and prune out the rooting horizontal branches.

Read about Red Twig Dogwood cultivars.

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea: Red Twig Dogwood. Photo by Greg Rabourn