Herb: Dogwood

Latin name: Cornus sanguinea

Synonyms: Swida sanguinea, Thelycrania sanguinea

Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Medicinal use of Dogwood:

The bark is astringent and febrifuge. It is used to treat fevers. The leaves are sometimes used externally as an astringent. The fruit is emetic.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Mixed woods, scrub and hedgerows, especially on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Dogwood:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A bitter flavour, it can also have an emetic effect on the body. It is not worthwhile. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter. An oil is obtained from the seed, it is edible when refined.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed contains 45% of a non-drying oil, it is used in soap making and lighting. A non-drying oil is also obtained from the pericarp, it is used for lighting. The pericarp contains 19 - 35% oil. A greenish-blue dye is obtained from the fruit. The young stems are very flexible and are used in basketry. Wood - tough, hard. Used for small items such as tool handles, turnery etc. A good quality charcoal is obtained from the wood, the wood also makes an excellent fuel.

Propagation of 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. 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 the herb:

Mixed woods, scrub and hedgerows, especially on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Cornus sanguinea:

Contrary to some reports, the fruit is not poisonous, but the leaves can cause skin irritations to sensitive people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.