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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Cornus stolonifera Michaux)

Red-osier dogwood



FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: An erect, deciduous shrub usually 1-3 m. high. Leaves are opposite, lanceolate to ovate, 5-10 cm. long with 5-7 pairs of lateral veins. Twigs and branches are reddish to bright red, and lack hairs. The inflorescence is an open cyme with white flowers. Mature fruit is a white berry. In flower from May to September. C. stolonifera is the only dogwood in our range that has both white berries and white pith. It can be easily distinguished from silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), which has dark blue berries and brown pith.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Red-osier dogwood is a characteristic shrub of shrub-carrs. It may form a dense thicket. Red-osier dogwood can invade edge meadows, wet to wet-mesic prairies, and calcareous fens in response to water level changes. This shrub is also found in wooded swamps and along streambanks. The berries are eaten by songbirds and ruffed grouse; white-tailed deer and eastern cottontail browse the twigs and buds. Kartesz (1994) calls this species C. sericea ssp. sericea L.

SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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