Common Dogwood © Paula Côrte-Real

Common Dogwood

Cornus sanguinea

Family and description

Belonging to the Cornaceae family and the Cornus genus, the Cornus sanguinea is a deciduous shrub that can reach a height of up to 5 m.

The youngest branches are purple in colour, especially in winter. The leaves are simple, ovate, petiolate and about 8 cm long. They also acquire a purple colour in autumn.

The flowers, terminal corymbs that are white in colour, are hermaphroditic and bloom in the  spring and summer. They are pollinated by insects.

The fruit is a very dark blue or black globular drupe, 5 to 8 mm in diameter, containing a single seed inside it.

Origin and habitat

Native to Europe and Asia Minor, in Portugal it is commonly found in cool and well-watered places, such as forest edges, chestnut groves and water lines, where it is not subject to drought or strong sunlight.

The common dogwood does not have a preferred soil type.

Uses and curiosities

Its propagation can occur by seed or root shoots.

The fruit is appreciated as food by several species of birds and some mammals, and is the favourite fruit of frugivorous passerines (fruit-eating perching birds) which makes the dogwood an excellent shrub for organic orchards.

Its hard, light-coloured wood was traditionally used in joinery.

Its name, “cornus” derives from Latin and means “bone”, alluding to the hardness of its wood.

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