I love spring when the branches of the Red Twig Dogwood begin to again glow a brilliant red. What an awesome sight.
Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is a great native plant to have in your landscape. From their white blossoms in the spring and deep green foliage in summer, to their rich red stems in the fall and winter, these plants provide color in the landscape.
Also called Redosier Dogwood, this shrub likes moist sole and thrives in our clay soils here in Central Wisconsin. It’s a good plant for holding the soil on the upper banks of streams and rivers or along ditches and wetlands. Once established, it’s stolons will spread to form a thicket and it’s branches will dip and root out where they touch the ground.
Where does the red come from?
The red color of the stems is caused by anthocyanins which vary from season to season depending upon the amount of sunlight. Consequently, in the spring, as the sun shines longer during the day the stems get redder.
The lovely white to cream-colored flowers are ornate flat clusters that often blossom two or three times a year. They’re also an excellent nectar plant so bees are always buzzing around them, along with a variety of other insects and butterflies.
Because their fruits are low in sugar, the berries don’t rot. But that means they’re available later in the year when other more desirable fruits have already been eaten.The seeds are eaten by many small mammals, and by many upland and song birds, their branches are eaten by the white-tailed deer and rabbits, and their thickets are used for nesting by the local goldfinches.
See also WDNR’s So, What Should I Plant?