Content Detail

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. In late summer it produces flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers, more smelly than fragrant, 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.

  • Family (English) Dogwood
  • Family (botanic) Cornaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 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 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Irregular, Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and Form:

Blood-twigged dogwood can grow from 6 to 15 feet high and wide with an upright to irregular form and are often colony-forming.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Blood-twigged dogwoods is native to Europe and central Asia. It is found along riversides, in shady areas, ravines, and forest margins.

Attracts birds or pollinators:

The fruit attracts birds.

Bark color and texture:

The bark on a blood-twigged dogwood is smooth with a green to red color. The red color is better on cultivars.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

The leaves of the blood-twigged dogwood are simple, opposite, green oval leaves that turn burgundy to yellow in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

It has flat-topped fluffy clusters of white flowers in late summer that are mildly unpleasant smelling.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

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


Plant Care:

Blood-twigged dogwood should be planted in full sun to part shade. It tolerates alkaline soil better than other dogwoods. This shrub needs to be pruned regularly to keep it in bounds. The best color is on new wood, so prune out the oldest stems in late fall.

List of pests and diseases:

Blood-twigged dogwood do not have any serious pests or diseases, although stem cankers can occur on older stems if they are not pruned out regularly.

Arctic Sun™ blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Cato’):

This cultivar is 3 to 4 feet high and wide. It has dark red winter stems with orange-red tips.

Midwinter Fire blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’):

Five to six feet high and wide, the winter stems are red at the base and change to yellow and orange on the upper portion. The leaves are purplish in the fall.

Winter Flame blood-twigged dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Flame’):

This cultivar is 8 to 10 feet high and wide. It has brightly colored red and orange winter stems.


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