Red-osier Dogwood


(Cornus stolonifera)

Red Osier Dogwood stems
Red Osier Dogwood buds
Red Osier Dogwood
Superior National Forest, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red-osier dogwood, Cornus stolonifera (formerly C. sericea) is a medium to large shrub native to North America. Its the most widespread species of the native dogwoods. The shrub provides four seasons of interest with vibrant dark red winter twigs, flower clusters and white berries. The shape is round and multistemmed; habit is vigorous, forming thickets from stolons, hence the name 'stolonifera'.

Flat clusters of small Yellowish white flowers are borne late May to early June, attracting bees and other insects for pollination. Flowering is best in full sun but the shrub tolerates some shade. In late summer, clusters of blueish white fruit appear and attract many bird species.

As with other dogwoods, oval leaves have prominent veins that follow the leaf outline (arcuate). The colour is green, turning reddish purple in the fall. Twigs are smooth with a unique and attractive red colour; showy in winter. Its dense branching serves as wildlife habitat and prominent browse for deer and rabbits. The name osier is French for 'willow shoot' due to its smooth colorful twigs.

The Shallow, dense root system of red-osier dogwood stabilizes riverbanks and can be planted on farm edges to reduce erosion and block snow. The shrub has been used by natives as a tobacco substitute; twigs have also been used in weaving and basketry.


Coublar, S., Canadian Wildlife Federation. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2015). Red-osier dogwood. Retrieved from

The Morton Arboretum. (n.d.). Red-osier dogwood. Retrieved from

U.S. Forest Service. (n.d.). Red Osier Dogwood. Retrieved from