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© M. Halford
© M. Halford
© E. Branquart
© E. Branquart
© E. Branquart
© E. Branquart
© E. Branquart

Invaded site

© E. Branquart
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Cornus sericea


Common name: Red-osier dogwood
Synonyms: C. stolonifera, C. alba
Origin: North America
Plant type: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Code of conduct: Annex II
Invasive status (ISEIA protocol): Black list
Main ornemental function: Ornamental shrub


C. sericea is a multi-stemmed shrub growing from 4 to 6 m high. The young stems and twigs are dark red, gradually fading to grey-green, and becoming red again in the autumn and winter. Opposite leaves, 10 cm long, with prominent lateral veins, dark green above and hairy and lighter-coloured below. Flowers are creamy-white, gathered in dense flat-topped clusters. Flowers are self-sterile. Fruits are white berries.


This shrub has moderate dispersal capacities, with strong vegetative reproduction but no seed germination (in Belgium). It spreads by layering when the lower stems touch or lie along the ground and root at the nodes. Shoot fragments can be transported over long distances through rivers. Seeds are primarily dispersed by birds and other mamals. Individual plants generally first produce fruits at 3 to 4 years of age. Seeds are not likely to germinate under Belgian climatic conditions, seedlings have never been observed in the wild. Commonly used as ornamental.


C. sericea is mostly found on moist and humid soils like swamps, wet meadows, megaphorbs, alluvial forests and other wetlands. The species can live with roots submerged in water for most of the growing season. The plant is able to tolerate extreme cold temperatures.


Species classified A2 in Belgium. This shrub has a strong vegetative reproduction capacity. It can cover large areas with a dense canopy which reduces the growth of native vegetation and decreases plant species richness. C. sericea can colonise habitat of high conservation value like alluvial forests (swamp forest) and riparian zones. Mentionned as an aggressive invader of semi-natural wetland habitats, both open and wooded. Listed as invasive in Switzerland, Ireland and the United-Kingdom. In Belgium the species is present in alluvial woodland classified as Natura 2000 habitats. More and more observed in the wild in Flanders. For more information, click here


(1) Avoid planting this species near rivers and wet habitats, especially in the vicinity of protected areas (natural reserves, Natura 2000 sites, etc.) ; (2) cut the flowers at the end of flowering and before fructification in order to avoid seed dispersal.

Possible native alternative

Main ornemental function

Ornamental shrub

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