Herb: Green Osier

Latin name: Cornus alternifolia

Synonyms: Swida alternifolia

Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Medicinal use of Green Osier:

Green osier was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who valued it particularly for its astringent bark which was used both internally and externally to treat diarrhoea, skin problems etc. It is little used in modern herbalism. The dried bark is used as an astringent, diaphoretic and stimulant. The inner bark was boiled and the solution used as an enema and this solution was also used as a tea to reduce fevers, treat influenza, diarrhoea, headaches, voice loss etc. It was used as a wash for the eyes. A compound infusion of the bark and roots has been used to treat childhood diseases such as measles and worms. It has also been used as a wash on areas of the body affected by venereal disease. A poultice of the powdered bark has been used to treat swellings, blisters etc.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry woods and rocky slopes. Rich woodlands and forest margins in moist well-drained soils.

Other uses of Green Osier:

A light to dark-brown dye is obtained from the roots with the addition of vinegar. Wood - heavy, hard, close grained. It is too small to be of commercial value, but is used locally for turnery.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months.

Cultivation of Green Osier:

Dry woods and rocky slopes. Rich woodlands and forest margins in moist well-drained soils.

Known hazards of Cornus alternifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.