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Red Osier Dogwood

Scientific Name:

Cornus sericea




Grows along lakes, ponds, and streams, as well as within wetlands


Much of North America; across Alaska and Canada and throughout most of the United States except for the Great Plains and the southeast


No listed status

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Red osier dogwood is a deciduous shrub that ranges from 3 to 9 feet tall and is easily recognized by its bright red stems during winter.1 The leaves are oval-shaped and dark green, while small, white flowers in groups of four to five form umbrella-like clusters. The flowers mature into bluish-white berries in late summer.

Fast Facts:

  • As one of many plants that certain indigenous groups call “kinnikinnick”, the inner bark of red osier dogwood was used as a tobacco substitute.

  • Other uses indigenous groups have for red osier dogwood include employing the flexible branches for basketry and making bows and arrows, along with using the bark for a red dye.

  • The berries are edible, but sour!

  • Red osier dogwood goes by many names, including American dogwood, red willow, redstem dogwood.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, red osier dogwood has been spotted in Rock Park, among other places. 



Tessa Putz (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

July 16, 2021 at 9:24:27 PM

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