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Cornus sericea 'Cardinal'

Red-Osier Dogwood /

'Cardinal' is a fast-growing, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub with cherry red winter stems. The stems are especially showy against a snowy backdrop. Tiny white flowers appear in flat-topped clusters in late spring. Flowers give way to clusters of creamy white fruit in late summer. Fruit is very attractive to birds and is generally considered to have as much if not more ornamental interest than the flowers. Dark green leaves turn an attractive red-purple in autumn.


  • Bright red stems in winter
  • Extremely winter hardy
  • Host plant for spring azure butterfly
  • Nutritious berries for a wide range of birds
  • Provides good nesting sites for birds and protective cover for wildlife
  • Tolerates a wide variety of conditions, including wet soils

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Best grown in organically rich, medium wet to wet soils in full sun to part shade but tolerates a wide range of soils, including swampy or boggy conditions.  The best red stem color occurs on new shoots. Although pruning is not required, you can remove 20-25% of the oldest stems in early spring each year to stimulate new growth or you can prune it heavily every year or two. Beware though, this plant flowers on old wood so when you remove old stems you are also removing the coming season's flowers and fruits.

6-8 Feet


9-10 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

Native Range

Swamps, stream banks and thickets; Newfoundland to Alaska in the western mountains to northern Mexico and in the East to Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Native Trivia

Thicket forming plants like this are perfect as property line dividers. They are also useful for hedgerows and for stablizing banks of  pond or stream.

"These bright red stems and nutritious berries provide good nesting sites and food for birds like me."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Shrubs
  • Filtered Shade
  • Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
  • Sun
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Moist
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Wet
Attracts Wildlife
  • Beneficial insects
  • Butterflies
  • Songbirds
Bloom Time
  • Summer
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
  • Songbird
  • Wet Sun
Native Habitat
  • Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
  • Green
  • Bog, water garden
  • Erosion control
  • Hedge, screen
  • Mass plant
  • Naturalizes
  • Ornamental fruit
Native to
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • 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