Cornus alba

Tatarian Dogwood




  • native to Siberia, Manchuria, N. Korea
  • cold hardy to zone 2

Habit and Form

  • a suckering, colonizing deciduous shrub
  • 4' to 8' tall and just about as wide
  • branching is upright and spreading
  • most stems branch little, except near the tip
  • shape is rounded

Summer Foliage

  • opposite simple leaves
  • leaf shape is ovate to elliptic
  • laves are 2" to 4.5" long and 1" to 2" wide
  • leaf tips are acute to acuminate
  • leaves emerge yellow-green and mature to medium or dark green

Autumn Foliage

  • often a showy red
  • some plants fail to develop good fall color


  • small, yellowish white flowers are held in flattened clusters
  • flower clusters are 1.5" to 2" in diameter
  • bloom time is late May to early June


  • fruits are white or tinged blue
  • each fruit is about 0.4" in diameter
  • fruits ripen in July


  • in winter, stems turn a vivid blood red color
  • in spring, stem color reverts to nearly green
  • stems are smooth, except for lenticels
  • very showy


  • tolerant of poorly-drained soils
  • easily transplanted and established
  • full sun or partial shade
  • remove oldest stems each year to promote suckering, since new stems have the best stem color

Landscape Use

  • border
  • mass plantings
  • wet soil sites
  • naturalistic areas
  • for winter ornamental appeal
  • probably not at its best used individually


  • leaf spot
  • twig blight and canker
  • borers
  • scale

ID Features

  • colonizing sucking shrub
  • red twig color in winter
  • stems branch little, except at the tips
  • conspicuous lenticels on the stems
  • pith is white


  • by cuttings


'Alleman's Compact' - A hardy, disease-free compact dwarf form growing to 6' tall with red stems in winter.

'Argenteo-marginata' (also seen often as 'Elegantissima') - Leaves are narrower than the species and edged with white. A less vigorous grower than the species (to 6' tall), with red winter stems. A common plant at nurseries.

'Bailhalo' (Ivory Halo™) - A useful, fairly common introduction with leaf and stem habit similar to 'Argenteo-marginata', but more compact form and dense branching (to 5' tall and wide).

'Bloodgood' - Selected for its very showy red stems.

'Bud's Yellow' - Commonly seen in current catalogs, this form features bright yellow stems. Growing to 6' tall and wider, it may represent a good substitute for the disease-prone C. sericea 'Flaviramea'.

'Gouchaultii' - An interesting variegate, often confused with 'Spaethii', that features red stems and leaves margined yellow and pink, often fading to white on the margins. It's fairly vigorous, often reaching 6' tall and wider.

'Siberian Pearls' - A form selected for profuse white flowers and good fruit set with white/blue drupes. The stem color is red.

'Sibirica' (perhaps confused with 'Westonbirt') - Stems are coral-red and fruits are bluish. Also, the leaves are more rounded than the species. Probably not as vigorous as the species (to 6' tall). Plants in the trade labelled 'Siberica' seem to be variable and undoubtedly represent more than one genotype.

'Spaethii' - Leaves have a strong border of yellow around them, and they usually do not scorch in summer heat. Less vigorous than the species (to 5' tall).

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.