Herb: Creeping Dogwood

Latin name: Cornus canadensis

Synonyms: Chamaepericlymenum canadense

Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Medicinal use of Creeping Dogwood:

The leaves and stems are analgesic, cathartic and febrifuge. A tea has been used in the treatment of aches and pains, kidney and lung ailments, coughs, fevers etc. A strong decoction has been used as an eye wash. The fruits are rich in pectin which is a capillary tonic, antioedemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and hypotensive. Pectin also inhibits carcinogenesis and protects against radiation. A tea made from the roots has been used to treat infant colic. The mashed roots have been strained through a clean cloth and the liquid used as an eyewash for sore eyes and to remove foreign objects from the eyes.

Description of the plant:


25 cm
(9 3/4 inch)


Habitat of the herb:

Coniferous woods, thickets and damp clearings in peaty soils.

Edible parts of Creeping Dogwood:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Pleasant but without much flavour. The fruits are rather dry a bit gummy and rather mealy but they have a pleasant slightly sweet flavour, though they are not the type of fruit I would like to eat raw in quantity. They can be added to breakfast cereals or used for making jams, pies, puddings etc. An excellent ingredient for steamed plum puddings. High in pectin, so it can be used with pectin-low fruits when making jam. Pectin is said to protect the body against radiation. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and is borne in small clusters on top of the plants.

Other uses of the herb:

The fruit is rich in pectin. A good dense ground cover plant, growing well in light woodland. It takes a little while to settle down and needs weeding for the first few years but becomes rampant when established and can then spread 60 - 90cm per year.

Propagation of Creeping Dogwood:

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. Division in spring. This plant can be a bit temperamental when it is being divided. We have found it best to tease out small divisions from the sides of the clump, to avoid the need to disturb the main clump by digging it up. Try to ensure that each division has already produced some roots. Pot them up in light shade in a greenhouse and make sure that they are not allowed to become dry. Once they are rooting and growing away well, which might take 12 months, they can be planted out into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Coniferous woods, thickets and damp clearings in peaty soils.

Known hazards of Cornus canadensis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.