Cornus stolonifera, also known as Red-osier Dogwood or Red Twig Dogwood, is a deciduous shrub boasting striking red branches that pop against the snow in winter and lush green foliage that turns to a beautiful shade of red in the fall. In the spring, the shrub produces flat-topped clusters of creamy-white flowers that are both fragrant and conspicuous. These give way to pea-sized white berries that attract birds and butterflies.
Red-osier Dogwood has a long history of medicinal use by Indigenous Peoples. The bark and root bark are astringent, febrifuge, and analgesic, making them useful in treating various ailments such as diarrhea, fevers, skin problems, and headaches. The bark can also be used externally to treat eye infections, poison ivy rash, and wounds.
In addition to its medicinal properties, Red-osier Dogwood has many other uses. The fruit, though bitter and unpalatable on its own, can be mixed with other fruits and dried for winter use. An oil obtained from the seed can be used in lighting, and the bark can be twisted into rope or used to make cordage. The branches are also pliable, making them ideal for basket making.
The Red-osier Dogwood is adaptable to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, though it prefers moist, well-drained soils and part shade. However, it is susceptible to twig blight, scale, and bagworms, so care must be taken to prevent and manage these pests.
Red-osier Dogwood is an attractive and versatile shrub with a long history of medicinal and practical uses. Whether you’re looking to attract wildlife, add colour to your landscape, or explore its many other benefits, this plant is sure to please.
References https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/ https://www.wildflower.org/plants/ http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/ Photo credit Royal BC Museum
Adaptable to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions but is plagued by twig blight, scale and bagworms., Don’t plant near drain tile
General: Deciduous shrub; stems 1-6 m tall, spreading by layering of prostrate stems that simulate stolons; young branches opposite, bright reddish to reddish-purple, later turning greyish-green.
Leaves: Opposite, deciduous, oval, pointed, 4-12 cm long, greenish above, whitish below, turning reddish in the autumn, 5-7 prominent parallel veins converging at the leaf tips, white threads running through the veins.
Flowers: Inflorescence of flat-topped terminal clusters, 2-4 cm wide; flowers white to greenish-white, 4 petals and stamens, bracts inconspicuous.
Fruits: Berrylike drupes, 7-9 mm long, white sometimes blue-tinged, each with flattened stone.