Cornus sericea, or Red Twig Dogwood ( also called Red Osier) is a native shrub that really stands out in the winter landscape. Driving around the countryside, you can spot the bright red stems quite easily at just about any speed…. not that we suggest that you drive around speeding to test this theory. Large stands of this suckering shrub are very common roadside, especially where drainage ditches have been made and water is available for this moisture loving plant. In the wild this dogwood can reach 6 feet or more. Coppicing and thinning in the garden will keep them shorter and the color richer. Flat-topped white fragrant flowers appear in May and June followed by white berries later in the season. The flowers attract many pollinators including butterflies. The berries are food for birds and other wildlife. Spreading by underground stolons, Red Twig Dogwood is very effective when used for erosion control. In the landscape, its main attraction is for its colorful branches in winter, and they are often collected for decoration in seasonal arrangements. Some cultivars such as ‘Cato’ have yellow stems while ‘Flaviramea’ has lime-green stems. Another, ‘Ivory Halo’ has variegated leaves giving it a longer season of interest. There are many cultivars on the market now having various shades of red, yellow, and green stems and also differing in height and spread. Almost all have better color when grown in full to mostly sunny sites. Cornus sericea is an easily grown native with many uses and types to choose from. We’ll be featuring several varieties, including the native of course, here at the nursery in the spring. Consider adding this great, Christmas red, native to your landscape!
Jan 18 2016
We live at 5000′ elevation in Northern California. Planted a Red Twig last summer and after seeing your photo am so happy that we did. Really enjoy your posts, I lived in Rumford Maine until I was six, but I still think of Maine as home.
Hello Judy, It’s a great native. Red Osier dogwood was one of the first plants I keyed out way back when in dendrology class. Here in Maine…your home state, it does wonders to bring some color to the winter landscape. Thank you for following the blog and for taking the time to comment. By the way, have you read the book about the Rumford Maine area, it’s called ‘When We Were The Kennedy’s” it is a great memoir written by a Monica Wood, having grown up in Mexico, Maine when the ‘Mighty Oxford’ ( as it was called by locals) paper mill was still in business….it’s a great read. Have a great day, Judy…and thanks again!
I love these–they seem to be all over the place around here and they really do brighten up out winter world!
Love them in outdoor arrangements! Hasn’t red always been a great color contrast for the winter world!
We enjoy these on our winter walks. Trees and shrubs in winter are certainly not ‘bare’ in their cold-weather beauty.
So happy to hear that you notice and appreciate the wonderful native, Red Osier Dogwood. And you are so right, the word bare almost leads us to believe that something is dead, so much to discover in winter, between both plants and animals. perhaps in a state of dormancy, but alive and well, and so much to appreciate! Thank you, Sammy!
I’m thinking it would be very nice against grey limestone also. 🙂