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Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs

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Picture of yellow twig (yellowtwig) dogwood bark.

Picture of yellow twig dogwood bark.

David Beaulieu

Plant Taxonomy of Yellow Twig Dogwoods:

Plant taxonomy classifies yellow twig dogwoods (or "yellowtwig" dogwoods) as Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea.' 'Flaviramea' is the cultivar name. A newer designation you'll find is Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea.'

Plant Type:

Yellow twig dogwoods are deciduous flowering shrubs.

Characteristics of Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs:

The tale of yellow twig dogwood's contribution to the landscape begins in late winter to early spring, when the golden color of its bark shines brightest. Flat-topped clusters of white flowers provide interest later in spring, as do the plant's white berries in summer. The summer green of the leaves yielded to a yellow color in autumn during my own plant's first year with me.

Planting Zones for Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs:

Grow these winter wonders in planting zones 3-8.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs:

Grow yellow twig dogwood shrubs in full sun for brightest bark color. They will tolerate partial shade, but reduced sunlight exposure may also reduce the brightness of their golden bark color. These bushes are good plants for wet areas (for example, wet spots where homeowners may wish to establish woodland gardens), where other plants would suffer from a lack of drainage. Mix humus into the soil to keep your yellow twig dogwood shrubs well fed.

Outstanding Characteristic:

Although the blooms and berries of yellow twig dogwood shrubs are admirable, there is no doubt that the golden or yellow color of the plant's bark is its outstanding feature, as you would expect from its name.

Uses for Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs in Landscaping:

The widely-spreading root systems of yellow twig dogwoods make them good choices to plant on a banking, where erosion control is an issue. Yellow twig dogwoods serve as specimen plants in winter, when (outside of evergreens) there is little plant color in the yard. Plant them where you can enjoy them -- e.g., within view from a window, from which you can see them pushing up through the snow. Use yellow twig dogwoods in combination with red twig dogwoods for an even more stunning winter display. With or without red twig dogwoods, yellow twig dogwoods look best when planted en masse.

Care for Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs:

Since the gold color of this bush's bark is brightest on newer branches, care consists largely in pruning yellow twig dogwoods. Prune in late winter. For maximal color, prune out 1/3 of the oldest branches every three years or so. Such pruning will promote new growth.

Wildlife Attracted by Yellow Twig Dogwood Shrubs:

Wild birds are attracted to the berries of Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea.'

Origin of the Latin Name, Cornus Stolonifera 'Flaviramea':

When you see the Latin name, Cornus stolonifera (or the newer Cornus sericea), what may first come to mind is a plant with red bark, not golden: namely, red osier dogwood. And you'd be correct: The bushes discussed here belong to the same species. But the cultivar name reveals the bark color of the yellow twig dogwoods; so let's break down the Latin name.

Cornus stolonifera 'Flaviramea' is composed of three Latin or Latinized words, as are many scientific plant names:

  1. Cornus is Latin for "horn" -- a reference to the toughness of the wood, according to Hottes' The Book of Shrubs, p.193.
  2. stolonifera refers to the underground roots or "stolons" by which yellow twig dogwoods spread.
  3. 'Flaviramea,' the cultivar name, is from the Latin for "yellow-branched."

See my main article on dogwoods to learn other types of Cornus.

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