Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
If you’re looking to plant in marshy or streamside territory look no further than Red Osier Dogwood. It loves to get its toes wet! This native shrub can be admired in its natural habitat along rocky Alaskan shorelines, as well as in streamside and upland forests stretching south through Oregon. This moisture-loving deciduous plant boasts uniquely attractive qualities year-round, flaunting brilliant red bark in the winter and then sprouting deep-veined oval leaves and frothy white clusters of flowers come spring. Cornus sericea’s blooms then give way to blueish-tinged white fruits gathered in berry-like droops which aren’t edible to humans, but are a great food source for wildlife. Fall ushers in stunning golden-red foliage before its leaves drop and the majestic cycle repeats.
Red Osier Dogwood’s resume of likable attributes includes being fire-resistant, serving as an excellent soil stabilizer, and providing habitat for birds when grown as a thicket. This versatile plant is content in both sun and shade, and reaches up to 15 feet if left unpruned. Branches and twigs were traditionally revered by indigenous groups for medicinal purposes, as well as for crafting salmon spreaders and basket rims.
Caroline Boschetto, AmeriCorps Projects Coordinator, Community Agriculture Engagement
Jim Pojar, Andy MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. 2004.
King County Native Plant Guide: Red Osier Dogwood
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Credit: By Matt Lavin, CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: Curtis Clark assumed (based on copyright claims). Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5