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Bloodtwig Dogwood Cornus sanguinea

Previously known as:

  • Swida sanguinea
  • Thelycrania sanguinea
Phonetic Spelling
KOR-nus san-GWIN-ee-ah
Description

The Bloodtwig Dogwood is a deciduous flowering shrub that is upright, bushy, multi-stemmed, and twiggy. It may grow up to 8 to 15 feet tall when it matures. The shrub has clusters of small white flowers in the spring and purplish-black drupes in the late summer. The colorful red stems and twigs add interest to a winter garden.

This plant is native to Europe and as far east as Lebanon and Caucasus. 

The genus name, Cornus, is Latin for the word, cornu, which means "horn." This references the hardness of the wood. The species name, sanguinea, is also Latin and means "blood red." This references the reddish twigs and young stems of the plant as well as the fall foliage. Other names for this plant include European Dogwood, Blood-twigged Dogwood, Dogberry, and Common Dogwood. 

The Bloodtwig Dogwood may be planted in full sun to partial shade. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soil types and prefers moist and well-drained soils. They may be reproduced by seeds, hardwood cuttings, or suckers. This shrub tends to form thickets. Pruning may be required to maintain the plant's shape. Young plants tend to have the most attractive red stems. The stems become dull green as the shrub matures. Reportedly, some gardeners prune the shrubs each year so the shrub will be forced to grow new stems and maintain their red color. 

The leaves are dark green, and the fall color is reddish-purple. The small white flowers have an unpleasant fragrance and appear as flat clusters. The fruits are purplish-black drupes. The stems are slender, hairy, and typically purple to dark red. 

The flowers attract butterflies for nectar and pollen, and the birds are attracted to the fruits as a food source.

The Bloodtwig Dogwood brings interest to the landscape or garden in multiple seasons. Consider this plant as a shrub border, hedge, or screening,  It would bring color to any Informal or Cottage Garden.

Seasons of Interest: 

Foliage:  Fall   Bloom:  Spring     Fruit: Late Summer    Twigs and Stems:  Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • Stems and twigs are red
  • Simple, dark green leaves transition to greenish-purple to reddish-purple in the fall
  • Clusters of small white flowers in the spring
  • Fruits are purplish-black drupes maturing late summer

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems:  The Bloodtwig Dogwood has no serious insect or disease problems. They may be attacked by horse chestnut scale. Anthracnose may affect weak shoots. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cato'
    3-4 feet tall, dark red winter stems with orangish-red tips
  • 'Midwinter Fire'
    5-6 feet tall, winter stems red at the base with yellow-orange tips
  • 'Winter Beauty'
  • 'Winter Flame'
    8-10 feet tall, bright red and orange winter stems
'Cato', 'Midwinter Fire', 'Winter Beauty', 'Winter Flame'
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#cover plant#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#showy stems#hedges#specialized bees#privacy#flowering shrub#thickets#red stems#screening#pollinator plant#suckers#nesting sites#purple fruits#bird friendly#bee friendly#shrub borders#red bark
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cato'
    3-4 feet tall, dark red winter stems with orangish-red tips
  • 'Midwinter Fire'
    5-6 feet tall, winter stems red at the base with yellow-orange tips
  • 'Winter Beauty'
  • 'Winter Flame'
    8-10 feet tall, bright red and orange winter stems
'Cato', 'Midwinter Fire', 'Winter Beauty', 'Winter Flame'
Tags:
#deciduous#small tree#white flowers#wildlife plant#nectar plant#cover plant#winter interest#fall interest#mass planting#showy stems#hedges#specialized bees#privacy#flowering shrub#thickets#red stems#screening#pollinator plant#suckers#nesting sites#purple fruits#bird friendly#bee friendly#shrub borders#red bark
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cornus
    Species:
    sanguinea
    Family:
    Cornaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe to Lebanon and Caucasus
    Distribution:
    Native: Albania, Austria, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Central European Russia, Corse, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East European Russia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungry, Ireland, Italy, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Sicilia, South European Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia. Introduced: United States--MA, PA, and WA
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are attractive to birds and plants provide nesting sites.  Members of the genus Cornus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Gonandrena) fragilis, Andrena (Gonandrena) integra, and Andrena (Gonandrena) platyparia.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Irregular
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits are purple-black drupes measuring about 0.25 inches in diameter. The drupes contain a smooth or slightly grooved stone. The fruits mature from August to September and have a bitter taste.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The small, dull, white flowers have an unpleasant odor. They are arranged in flat clusters or cymes that measure 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. The sepals and flower stalks have downy hairs. The petals measure 0.25 inches long. They bloom from May to early June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green, simple, elliptic to ovate, and measure 2 to 4 inches long and 0.75 to 1.75 inches wide. Pale scattered hairs are found on both sides of the leaves. The fall leaves may be a greenish-purple to a reddish-purple.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    The red bark is on the new wood. Regular pruning will help promote the red color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are slender, hairy, dark maroon to reddish-brown. The older branches are dull green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Security
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees