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.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Alkaline soil
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter,
- early summer,
- late summer,
- early fall,
- mid fall,
- late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Form
6 to 15 feet high and wide with an upright to irregular form, often colony-forming.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to part shade.
Tolerates alkaline soil better than other dogwoods.
Prune regularly to keep in bounds.
Best color is on new wood so 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.
Artic Sun™ blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Cato'): 3 to 4 feet high and wide; dark red winter stems with orange-red tips
Midwinter Fire blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'): 5 to 6 feet high; winter stems red at base and change to yellow and orange on upper portion; purplish fall color; 5 to 6 feet high
Winter Flame blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea 'Winter Flame'): 8 to 10 feet high; brightly colored red, orange and red winter stems.