E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Cornus sericea L.
red-osier dogwood
Cornaceae (Dogwood family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Lydia Dani  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #80896)

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Distribution of Cornus sericea
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Species Information

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.
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.
Inflorescence of flat-topped terminal clusters, 2-4 cm wide; flowers white to greenish-white, 4 petals and stamens, bracts inconspicuous.
Berrylike drupes, 7-9 mm long, white sometimes blue-tinged, each with flattened stone.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Wet to mesic streamsides, lakesides, swamps and forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to WV, OH, NE, NM, CA and MX.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Cornus sericea

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 759 2500
Slope Gradient (%) -2 12 230
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 243 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(62), BWBS(335), CDF(64), CWH(465), ESSF(67), ICH(1250), IDF(570), MH(1), MS(315), PP(64), SBPS(22), SBS(1270)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, transcontinental North American deciduous shrub. Occurs on very moist to wet, nitrogen-rich soils (Moder and Mull humus forms. Tolerates fluctuating groundwater tables. Widespread in boreal. temperate, and cool mesothermal climates: its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation. Plentiful in black cottonwood or red alder stands on alluvial. flooded, and stream-edge sites: often dominant in nutrient-rich wetlands. Regenerates abundantly and grows vigorously in clearings where it may hinder natural regeneration and growth of shade-intolerant conifers. Characteristic of alluvial floodplain forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cornus ×californica C.A. Mey.
Cornus alba var. californica (C.A. Mey.) B. Boivin
Cornus alba var. occidentalis (Torr. & A. Gray) B. Boivin
Cornus occidentalis (Torr. & A. Gray) Coville
Cornus sericea subsp. sericea L.
Cornus stolonifera Michx.
Cornus stolonifera var. californica (C.A. Mey.) McMinn
Cornus stolonifera var. occidentalis (Torr. & A. Gray) C.L. Hitchc.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References