Description & Overview

Redosier Dogwood is a uniquely beautiful Wisconsin native shrub that provides food and shelter to nearly 100 species of birds. It can be used as a stunning hedge or border plant in just about any soil condition. Thriving in wet areas, with suckering roots, this hardy shrub can provide erosion control while showing off brilliant red young stems in winter and clusters of white berries in fall. A fast grower that reaches considerable size, Redosier Dogwood requires minimal maintenance.

You may also know this plant as Redtwig Dogwood.

Core Characteristics

Category: Shrub

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 2

Mature Height: 7-9 feet

Mature Spread: 8-10 feet

Growth Rate: Fast

Growth Form: Round, upright-spreading, suckering shrub

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Prefers moist to wet soil, tolerates dry, drought, flooding, alkaline and clay soils

Flower: White, small clusters

Bloom Period: Summer

Foliage: Ovate to lanceolate, medium to dark green

Fall Color: Red to orange, fading to purple

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Bluish-white drupe, cluster, ornamental, attracts birds

Suggested Uses

Redosier Dogwood’s bright red stems provide winter interest and can be massed or left to stand alone as a specimen. They combine beautifully with evergreens for winter color contrast. It can be used for screening, as a hedge, in shrub borders, and perfect for naturalized planting where it will spread and form thickets. Redosier Dogwood is an excellent choice for wet sites and will perform well along streams or ponds and help to control soil erosion.

Redosier Dogwood is a uniquely beautiful Wisconsin native shrub that provides food and shelter to nearly 100 species of birds. It can be used as a stu…

Wildlife Value

The showy bluish-white berries attract more than 100 species of birds. American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Catbirds, Northern Flickers, Summer Tanagers, Thrush, Juncos, Northern Cardinals, Warblers, Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Eastern Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Wood Thrush, Purple Finches, White-throated Sparrows, Red-eyed Vireos, and American Crows all eat the seeds. Wood Ducks, Wild Turkey, Bobwhite Quail, Ruffed Grouse, and pheasants also enjoy the seeds. The high-fat content of the fruit is an important food source, and the thicket also provides shelter.

Quail and Catbirds have been observed using Redosier Dogwood as nesting sites. With its multi-branched structure and sometimes larger size, it’s probable that Redosier provides cover and habitat for many species of wildlife.

Bumblebees are the most frequent pollinator visitors including specialist bees such as Mining bees, including the Fragile Miner Bee (Andrena fragilis), Bare Dogwood Miner Bee (Andrena integra), Protuberance Miner Bee (Andrena persimulata), and Plated Miner Bee (Andrena platyparia).

It is a host plant to many including the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), Northern Eudeilinea (Eudeilinea herminiata), Corcus Geometer (Xanthotype sospeta), Dogwood Borer Moth (Synanthedon scitula), Unicorn Caterpillar (Schizura unicornis), Friendly Probole (Probole amicaria), Dogwood Probole (Probole alienaria nyssaria), Inornate Olethreutes (Olethreutes inornatana), One-spotted Variant (Hypagyrtis unipunctata), Fragile White Carpet (Hydrelia albifera), Dogwood Thyatirid (Euthyatira pudens), Dimorphic Bomolocha (Bomolocha bijugalis), and White-lined Bomolocha Moth (Bomolocha abalienalis).

Visitors  that feed on the foliage and wood include Red-headed Flea Beetles (Systena frontalis), Dogwood Leaf Beetle (Calligrapha philadelphica), Dogwood Spittlebug (Clastoptera proteus), Dogwood Twig Borer (Oberea tripunctata), Dogwood Clubgall Midge (Resseliella clavula), Leaf beetle (Calligrapha rowena), Four-lined Plant Bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus), and Dogwood Sawfly (Macremphytus testaceus).

The shrub is browsed upon by deer, cottontail rabbits, raccoons, White-footed mice, elk, and snowshoe hare and is an important food source for moose and beavers. Snapping Turtles and Pond Sliders have been known to feed upon fallen leaves.

As you can see, Redosier Dogwood is an important native plant in Wisconsin woodlands and wet areas, and by adding it to your landscape, you are contributing to the longevity of our native wildlife.

Maintenance Tips

Although shade tolerant, Redosier Dogwood performs best and has the brightest winter color in full sun. It spreads through suckering and will form thickets, so pruning helps maintain a smaller plant size as appropriate for the site. Newer stems are bright red to purple while older stems fade and become deeper purple to gray in color; regular spring pruning will rejuvenate color. Can be pruned to the ground every spring or pruned selectively to promote new growth for desired shape/size/color.

Redosier Dogwood is extremely tolerant of wet, swampy sites and performs well in wet areas. It’s adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and is extremely low maintenance – unless you desire to prune it, which again, isn’t necessary.

Redosier Dogwood is a uniquely beautiful Wisconsin native shrub that provides food and shelter to nearly 100 species of birds. It can be used as a stu…


Stem canker and leaf spot are the two most common diseases seen on Redosier Dogwood. These typically do not pose a serious threat to the health of this very hardy native shrub. Wet weather promotes these fungal diseases. Leaf spot is mainly cosmetic, and treatment is not typically recommended. Prune only during dry weather to reduce susceptibility to fungal infection in stems.

Leaf Lore

We collect local eco-type seeds from our own parent plants to propagate native dogwood. While cleaning the seed by hand is a laborious process, the oils in the berries soften the skin and leave hands feeling silky after the job is done!

The genus Cornus is Latin for “horn” alluding to the hardness of the wood of the dogwood trees. The specific epithet sericea means “silky” in reference to the fine hairs atop the leaves.

The “osier” in Redosier is a French word for “willow-like” drawing up a lesser-known common name of red willow. Why the name dogwood? Nothing to do with canines, but a corruption of the Scandinavian term “dag” meaning skewer (dogwood sticks were used to roast meat).

The bark of Redosier dogwood has been used as emetic for coughs, colds, fevers, for smoking, boiled to make a red dye, used with American Plum (Prunus americana) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) to make a yellow dye, as a coagulant, for eye infections, a wash for ulcers, twisted branches to make fishnets, to heal a woman internally after childbirth, to induce vomiting, and to make cooking utensils.

Redosier Dogwood is one of several plants that Native Americans called kinnikinik which was cured and used as a tobacco substitute.

The berries were mixed with serviceberries and sugar and eaten as a ‘sweet and sour’ dish, rubbed on the scalp to prevent graying, and eaten as a dessert food.

Companion Plants

Combine Redosier Dogwood with any evergreen to amp up the color and texture contrast! Intermingle with ornamental grasses such as:

Or perennials including:

Plant alongside other shrubs such as:

Redosier Dogwood is a uniquely beautiful Wisconsin native shrub that provides food and shelter to nearly 100 species of birds. It can be used as a stu…
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Written by Johnson's Nursery