- Broadleaf deciduous shrub, 7-9 ft (2-3 m) high, spreading to 10 ft (3 m), multi-stemmed, young branches red, loose, some branches procumbent, spreads by underground stems (stolons). Leaves opposite, simple, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 5-13 cm long, dark green above, blue-green below, apex long-acuminate, rounded at base, 5-7 vein pairs. Flowers small, dull white, in clusters (cymes) 3-5 cm across. Fruit is green when young then white, globose, 6-9 mm.
- Sun. Very adaptable to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Does best in moist soil, in the wild often observed in wet swampy areas. A good shrub for a riparian zones. Red stems are appealing in a winter setting.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 2 Native range extends over much of North America, except southeastern and lower midwestern states.
Taxonomic Note: It is difficult to distinguish C. sericea (Redosier dogwood) and C. alba (Tatarian dogwood) using winter characteristics and their differences in general are minimal and both species are now included in Cornus sericea subsp. sericea. The inclusion of Redoiser dogwood, also previously known as C. stolonifera, in C. sericea subsp. sericea separates it from its “western version” (Western or Creek Dogwood) which was listed as C. stolonifera var. occidentalis or simply C. occidentalis. Now the accepted name for the western form is Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis.
A number of clones are available, some of the more common ones include:
- ‘Baileyi’ (syn. C. s. var. balieyi): to 9ft (2.7 m), fruit is white then blue
- ‘Cardinal’: a bright red stemmed form
- ‘Flaviramia’: has yellow or golden stems in winter
- ‘Isanti’: to 6 ft (1.8 m), red stem color, shorter internodes so plant is rather dense
- ‘Kelseyi’: a low growing, compact shrub, bright red to red-brown.
- sericea: silky
- redosier: this common name apparently is in reference to the resemblance of the reddish stems to those of some willows called osiers, used in basketry (e.g., Salix purpurea). Thin redosier stems can be used in weavings and as basket rims.