A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.

Cornus sanguinea L.

Common Dogwood

Modern name

Cornus sanguinea L.


Swida sanguinea (L.) Opiz; Thelycrania sanguinea (L.) Fourret

A deciduous shrub 6 to 12 ft high, of erect habit; young shoots minutely downy, dull dark green. Leaves ovate, 112 to 3 in. long, 34 to 134 in. wide; tapered and rounded at the base, slender-pointed, furnished, especially when young, with pale scattered hairs on both surfaces, which are longer beneath than above; veins in three or four, sometimes five pairs; stalks 18 to 12 in. long. Flowers dull white, with a heavy odour, produced densely during June in downy cymes 112 to 2 in. across; sepals and flower-stalks downy; petals about 14 in. long. Fruit globose, purplish black, shining, 14 in. wide, with a bitter taste.

Native of Europe, including the south of England, where it is abundant in some localities. It is a shrub of undistinguished character, its chief value being in the fine autumnal red of its leaves. The specific name applies to this and not to the young bark, which has nothing more than an occasional dark red tinge on the exposed side. The wood is tough and hard, and is used for making butchers’ skewers and such like.

f. viridissima (Dieck) Schelle – Young stems green, remaining so the first winter; occurs wild with the type.

Variegated forms have been known since the eighteenth century, but none is of any garden value.



Other species in the genus