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Species Name:  Cornus sericea

Common Name: Red twig dogwood, Red oseir dogwood

Zone: 2 to 7


Distribution: Newfoundland south to Pennsylvania


Seed collection: Red twig dogwood fruit matures in mid August to early September in the northeast.  Fruit changes color from light green to creamy white.   Collect fruits from the branches soon after ripening. Fruits may remain on the plant through October. The fruits are readily eaten by many species of birds especially during fall migration and may strip the plants of all their fruit.

Seed handling: Fruit is a small white berry about the size of a pea.  Each fruit contains one small round hard seed surrounded by a thin fleshy pulp.  Clean seed soon after collecting to remove chemical inhibitors in the pulp and to prevent mold which may damage the seed. 
The pulp and skins are easily removed from the seed by macerating the fruit with your hands. Large batches can be macerated using a food processor. Blend until the skins and pulp are pureed.  Processing will not damage the hard seeds. Separate the pulp and skins from the seeds by floating off the waste. Most sound seed will sink to the bottom of the container and aborted seed, skins and pulp can be poured off with several changes of water until only sound seed remains. Place cleaned seed under stratification immediately or within one to two weeks of cleaning to maintain moisture content of seed. Cleaned seed can be sown immediately in prepared beds, planted into native soil or stratified for planting in the spring. Seeds require 2 to 3 months cold/moist stratification to break dormancy or fall plant which provides the same treatment naturally.

Germination requirements: A high percentage of viable seed will germinate the first spring, additional seed may germinate the 2nd spring or even in subsequent years. Sow seed ¼” to ½” deep in prepared seedbeds or in native soil.  Seedlings emerge in early spring as soon as the soil warms.  Seedling growth depends on soil fertility, moisture and weed competition. Seedling size can range from a few inches to 10” tall the first summer. Seedlings can grow in full sun to half shade the first season but shade is generally recommended for the first year.

Ecology: Red osier dogwood (ROD) is an important native shrub. ROD produces abundant fruit, which is readily consumed by birds and small mammals.  It is especially adapted to wetlands and poorly drained soils.  It grows best in full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade.  ROD is common in swamps, bottomland forests, wet meadows, stream banks and any place with excess moisture.  It will naturalize any place the seed is deposited: in old fields, roadsides ditches, hedgerows and waste places. Red osier grows from 6 to 8 ft tall and wide.  It can be easily established by seed under natural conditions. Harvest large quantities of seed and either plant or broadcast the seed into suitable habitat.
Red osier is stoloniferous producing new shoots from the root system. Red osier can be rooted by layering or from hardwood cuttings. Any portion of branch or stem that is in contact with the ground will develop new roots. Vigorous stems with long internodes can be cut into sections and pressed into wet soil in early spring, leaving just an inch or two exposed.  These cuttings root in high percentages.  Treating with rooting hormones will enhance rooting success.

red twig dogwood

this page posted January 6th, 2014