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(Cornus alba)
Red Osier Dogwood

Host Plant: Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon), the Io Moth (Automeris io), and the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Nectar Plant: many insects including other butterflies, bees, wasps, and beetles.

Flower Color: white to yellow

Growth Habit: deciduous shrub

Flowering Time: March to May

Range in North America: South-central, mid-west, and eastern United States

Exposure: Prefers full sun to partial shade

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Soil Requirements: wet to moist soil, but can handle drier soil in a garden setting

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Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba)

Flower buds and leaves of red osier dogwood (Cornus alba).
Red Osier Dogwood flower buds – AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alternative Names

Tartarian Dogwood, Siberian Dogwood, Red-twig Dogwood

Description of Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba)

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba), a member of the Cornaceae (Dogwood Family), is a deciduous shrub that grows from 8′ to 10′ tall and blooms in the spring and early summer (March to May).  This plant grows in places with full sun or partial shade that are often wet or moist.  It can handle drier conditions in a garden setting.  More information on Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba) can be found in this blog post.

Hosted Species

Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) on a leaf.
Spring Azure Butterfly on Leaf — ALAN SCHMIERER, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Io Moth (Automeris io)

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) on a branch.
Cecropia Moth on Branch — Marvin Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nectar Species

Birds enjoy the fruits of this species in the fall.

Habitat

This shrub grows in places with full sun or partial shade that are wet or moist.

Range of Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba) in the United States and Canada

Range map of red osier dogwood (Cornus alba var. alba) in the United States and Canada.
Range map of red osier dogwood (Cornus alba var. alba) in the United States and Canada.
Range of red osier dogwood (Cornus alba var. occidentalis) in the United States and Canada.
Range of red osier dogwood (Cornus alba var. occidentalis) in the United States and Canada.

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus alba) is native to most of the United States and Canada, except for the southeast and south-central United States and far northern Canada.  Note: There are two varieties, var. alba, which is more widespread and var. occidentalis, which is found in the western United States.

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Cornus, comes from the Latin word, “Cornu” meaning horn (Missouri Botanical Garden).  This describes the tough wood of the members of the genus.  The species name, alba, is Latin for “white” and describes the fruits.

Native Location

British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland-Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territory, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7

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Red Osier Dogwood”

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