- A deciduous, dwarf shrub with dense, upright branches and a spreading habit. It may reach a height of 10 ft (3 m) in 6-10 years. Leaves are small, obtuse shaped, crinkled, crowded and green; but turn purple in fall. Flowers are creamy-white and borne in dense clusters up to 4 cm across. Ripening white fruit contrasts sharply with the purple leaves.
- Sun to part shade. Some recommend pruning old stems to the ground to encourage new stems with better yellow color. Apparently the flowers are sterile and, therefore, does not set seed.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 2 Raised by Herman Albrecht Hesse (1852 - 1937) - German nurseryman (Hesse Nurseries), originator of several woody plants including conifers. A number of cultivars carry the nursery's name.
Cornus alba, and its associated cultivars, are now classified as a subspecies of Cornus sericea, hence Cornus sericea supsp. sericea. However the Cornus alba designation is still often used in in nursery commerce.