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Redosier DogwoodCornus sericea

  • Redosier Dogwood bush - Cornus sericea
An upright, loose, multi-stemmed, broad-spreading shrub with horizontal branches at the base. The young stems are slender, very smooth, and red. The bark remains a deep red for some time finally turning gray-brown with a rough sandpaper like texture. This is a thicket forming shrub. The fibrous root system holds soil well for use as a bank cover. The foliage is green in summer, but varies in the fall from little color to reddish purple. The cream-white flowers appear in cymes in the spring producing dull white drupes in July to September. The redosier dogwood prefers full sun with an evenly moist soil, but has wide range of tolerance except for extremely dry conditions. Horizontal growth is slow. Pruning needs to be done only once a year. Periodic renewal of this shrub by cutting it back to the ground will allow the red color of the younger stems to show. Plant three to four feet apart for a hedge.

Hardiness Zones

The redosier dogwood can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2–7. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The redosier dogwood grows to a height of 7–9' and a spread of around 10' at maturity.

Growth Speed Fast Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The redosier dogwood is very adaptable, growing in acidic to alkaline soils. It prefers moist soils and often grows in wet swamp lands. It does not, however, tolerate excessively dry soil.

Attributes

This shrub:
  • Features vibrant red stems that make a bold statement in the wintertime landscape.
  • Produces attractive clusters of white flowers in mid- to late spring.
  • Yields pea-sized white drupes that mature in late summer to early fall.
  • Is easy to transplant.
  • Needs to be pruned only once a year.
  • Can be cut back to the ground regularly for the red color of the younger stems to be more prevalent.
  • Features opposite, simple leaves, ovate to oblong-lancelolate in shape and 2–5" in length. The medium to dark green summer color changes to a ruddy red or purple in the fall.
  • Has slow horizontal growth.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Can be planted 3–4' apart to make a hedge.

Wildlife Value

The redosier dogwood provides dense cover for wildlife. The white berries are eaten by at least 18 species of birds including ruffled grouse, bobwhite quail, wild turkey and gray catbird. The twigs and foliage are browsed by elk, deer, moose, rabbits and chipmunks.

History/Lore

The redosier dogwood is native to North America, with a range that extends over most of the United States from Newfoundland to Mexico, California to Virginia. It is also known as red dogwood, redstem dogwood, and red willow.

Native Americans use the inner bark in tobacco mixtures in the sacred pipe ceremony. Some tribes ate the sour berries while others made arrow shafts, bows, stakes and other tools from the branches and shoots. The leaves, bark and roots were used to make medicines.

Redosier dogwood is also used for basket weaving. If the bark is gathered in the early spring, it will retain its deep red color when dried.