Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea L. (syn.: C. stolonifera Michaux, Swida sericea (L.) Holub, S. stolonifera (Michaux) Rydberg, Thelycrania sericea (L.) Dandy, T. stolonifera (Michaux) Pojark.) (N-Am.) – An increasing, recently naturalised escape from or relic of cultivation. First recorded at the end of the 19th century (Lummen, 1885; Sint-Joris-Wingene, 1888; Vierset-Barse, 1894) but early records are always in or near more or less abandoned estates (relic of cultivation). Increasingly recorded from the 1950’s onwards (Grimbergen, Malonne, Mariemont, Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor), most of the time obviously as an escape from cultivation. At present Cornus sericea is – although still insufficiently known – more or less widespread and locally naturalised (Verloove 2002, 2006). It is usually found in wood- and scrubland on damp, often rather nitrophilous soils (urban woodland, marshes, old parks). Cornus sericea is sometimes found in rather remote, nature-like locations (obviously birdsown). It often spreads fast by suckers and might locally become an invasive environmental weed (Kelly 1990).

Additional information on the invasive behaviour of Cornus sericea in Belgium and elsewhere in western Europe is available at: and

The exact identity of the Belgian populations is somewhat critical. Cornus alba L. (syn.: Swida alba (L.) Opiz, Thelycrania alba (L.) Pojark.) has been claimed on various occasions. This species is a native of Siberia and possibly conspecific with Cornus sericea. Molecular studies confirm its close relationship to the American Cornus sericea (Xiang & al. 2006). It usually has smaller leaves that are longer acuminate and drupes with stones that are longer than wide (versus wider than long in Cornus sericea) (see illustrations in Jonsell 2010). According to Schulz (2012) the binomial Cornus sericea is erroneously applied for this species. The latter is a synonym of Cornus amomum Mill. The only correct name to apply is Cornus stolonifera or, if reduced to subspecies rank, C. alba subsp. stolonifera (Michaux) Wangerin.

Herbarium specimen


 Gent, urban woodland, 08.2009, Filip Verloove

 Gent, urban woodland, 08.2009, Filip Verloove

Menen, off-ramp of river Leie, June 2010 by Filip Verloove

Menen, off-ramp of river Leie, June 2010 by Filip Verloove

Cornus sericea by Sven Bellanger

Cornus sericea, Brugge, sand raised site, October 2010, F. Verloove

Selected literature

Bačič T., Strgulc Krajšek S. & Jogan N. (2015) Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea L.) - a new invasive species in Slovenian flora (in Slovenian). Acta Biologica Slovenica 58(2): 13-21. [available online at:

Jonsell B. (2010) Cornus. In: Jonsell B. & Karlsson T. (eds.), Flora Nordica, vol. 6. Swedish Museum of Natural History: 157-161.

Kelly D.L. (1990) Cornus sericea L. in Ireland: an incipient weed of wetlands. Watsonia 18: 33-36.

Schulz B. (2012) Die Gattung Cornus (Cornaceae), Hartriegel und Kornelkirsche, Teil 3: Die Kleinfrüchtigen Hartriegel (Untergattung Kraniopsis). Mitt. Deutsch. Dendrol. Gesel. 97: 91-132.

Verloove F. (2002) Ingeburgerde plantensoorten in Vlaanderen. Mededeling van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud n° 20: 227 p.

Verloove F. (2006) Cornus sericea. In: Van Landuyt W., Hoste I., Vanhecke L., Van den Bremt P., Vercruysse W. & De Beer D., Atlas van de flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest. Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, Nationale Plantentuin van België en Flo.Wer: 306.

Xiang Q.-Y., Thomas D.T., Zhang W., Manchester S.R. & Murrell Z. (2006) Species level phylogeny of the Dogwood genus Cornus (Cornaceae) based on molecular and morphological evidence– implication in taxonomy and Tertiary intercontinental migration. Taxon 55: 9-30.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith