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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Tartarian Dogwood

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Tartarian Dogwood (Cornus alba)

Beth Berlin

Plant description

Mature height: 3 to 10'
Mature width: 3 to 10'
Growth rate: Fast
Plant form: Rounded, arching
Deciduous or evergreen: Deciduous
Native range: Siberia to Manchuria and northern Korea
Native to Minnesota: No
Invasive in Minnesota: No

Culture

Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil texture: Sand, loam clay
Soil pH:
5.5-7.0, adaptable to alkaline
Soil moisture: Prefers moist soils and well-drained soils, adaptable to drier and wetter soils
Hardiness zone: 3 - 7
Pests and stresses: Leaf spots. Visit What's wrong with my shrub? – Dogwood for a list of the most common dogwood pests in Minnesota.
Other: suckering plant

Tartarian dogwood in the landscape

Tartarian dogwood is the Asian relative of Minnesota’s native redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) and with the exception of native range and hardiness level, they are very similar. Both are known for their colorful winter bark. Flowers, fruit, cultural requirements, and landscape function are very similar.

Tatarian dogwood is used as a border, mass, screen, or specimen plant in landscapes. Other than full shade sites, C. alba is adaptable to most planting sites. This is a suckering species and over time, suckers may need to be removed to maintain plant width. For most cultivars within this species, brightly colored bark occurs on stems that are less than 3 years old so rejuvenation pruning should be a regular practice; remove the oldest third of stems down to the base of the plant every year or two.

Tatarian dogwood has multi-season interest but, because of its colorful winter bark, its main season of interest is winter. In spring, 2-5" leaves emerge followed by 2" clusters of small, 4-petaled, yellowish-white flowers in mid-May to June. Sporadic rebloom will occur later in the growing season. Small, round, white to pale blue fruit mature in late summer and autumn and are a popular food for songbirds. Fall color among cultivars with variegated leaves is insignificant. Other cultivars have yellow or red-purple fall color. In late summer, younger stems will start to turn from green to red or yellow-green. Color intensifies throughout winter until spring when stem color returns to green.

close up of red branches in snow

Bailey Nurseries

Red winter stems of First Edition® Baton Rouge™

thin yellow branches in snowy landscape

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Yellow winter stems of 'Bud's Yellow'

large green bush in landscape

Bailey Nurseries

Plant form of Ivory Halo®

close up of green leaves with white edges and berries

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Variegated leaves and white berries of 'Argenteo-marginata'

Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:

  Cultivar selected for:
Cultivar Red winter stems Yellow winter stems Variegated foliage Fall color Dwarf or compact habit
'Argenteo-marginata' X     X X
'Bud's Yellow'       X  
First Edition®Baton Rouge™ X X      
Ivory Halo® X     X X
Red Gnome™ X       X
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