TREES & plants

Blood-twigged dogwood

 Blood-twigged dogwood is a medium-sized shrub, popular mainly for its straight stems and branches, which turn a mix of green and red in winter. It has flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers, more smelly than fragrant, in late summer, followed by small black fruit.  Blood-twigged dogwood tends to form suckering colonies, so it should be used only where there is ample space. The best red bark color is on new wood, so regular pruning is required to keep up the winter interest. Cultivated varieties are more popular than the straight species.


Botanical name: 
Cornus sanguinea
All Common Names: 
Blood-twigged dogwood, common dogwood, dogberry, European dogwood, bloodtwig dogwood
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Shrub
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Massing
  • Hedge
  • Screen
Size Range: 
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter
  • Mid winter
  • Late winter
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Irregular
  • Multi-stemmed
  • Thicket-forming
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size and Form

6 to 15 feet high and wide; thicket forming and upright to irregular form

Tree & Plant Care

Tolerates alkaline soil.
Best color is on new wood; prune out oldest stems each winter.

Diseases, Pests & Problems

None serious, although stem cankers can occur on older stems if they are not pruned out regularly.

Native Geographic Location and Habitat

Native to Europe and central Asia.  Found in riversides, shady areas, ravines, and forest margins.

Attracts birds & butterflies

Fruit attracts birds.

Bark color and texture 

Smooth, red to green. Color is better on cultivars.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, opposite, green oval leaves turn burgundy to yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers in late summer; mildly unpleasant smelling.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Black berries (drupes)  in fall are often hidden by leaves but attract birds.

Cultivars and their differences 

Midwinter Fire (Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'):  Winter stems start red at base and change to yellow and orange on upper portion; purplish fall color; 5 to 6 feet tall.