Swida sericea (Linnaeus) Holub. Phen: May-Jun; Jul-Oct. Hab: Shrub swamps, bottomlands, suburban areas. Dist: NL (Labrador) and AK south to VA, WV, KY (Clark et al. 2005), IL, NM, AZ, CA, and Mexico. At least some of the occurrences in VA represent horticultural introductions.
Origin/Endemic status: Native
Taxonomy Comments: This species is sometimes considered to be indistinguishable from the Eurasian C. alba (see synonymy), a contention we reject. The nomenclature to apply to this North American species is complex and controversial. Rickett’s rejection of C. sericea as a “nomen dubium“ has some merit, but Fosberg's lectotypification of C. sericea codifies the nomenclature. Attempts to link the name C. sericea Linnaeus to the Red Osier Dogwood have focused on the Linnaean description of ‘foliis subtus sericeis’ and ‘ramis rubicundis’. The reference to the red branches has been emphasized to rule out any other species, yet C. amomum and C. obliqua also have reddish-maroon branches. The description of ‘fructo nigro-caeruleo’ cannot be dismissed as a reference to individuals of the Red Osier Dogwood which have pale blue fruit, often considered to be due to hybridization with C. amomum or C. obliqua. It seems clear that the description of Cornus sericea by Linnaeus fits C. obliqua better than it does the Red Osier Dogwood. Although there is a specimen in the Linnaean herbarium which has been identified as the Red Osier Dogwood, it is neither dated nor is the label of C. sericea in Linnaeus’s hand. Also, considering the similarity of the Red-Osier Dogwood and C. alba Linnaeus, it is doubtful Linnaeus would have described the Red Osier Dogwood without reference to C. alba.
Synonymy: = NE; = Cornus alba L. ssp. stolonifera (Michx.) Wangerin – K4; = Cornus sericea L. – C, FNA12, Mi, NY, Pa; = Cornus stolonifera Michx. – G, GrPl, Mex, Va, W, WV; = Swida stolonifera (Michx.) Rydb.; < Cornus alba L. var. alba – K3; > Cornus sericea L. ssp. sericea – K1; > Cornus sericea L. var. baileyi (J.M.Coult. & W.H.Evans) Mohlenbr. – Il, not validly published; > Cornus sericea L. var. sericea – Il; > Cornus stolonifera Michx. var. baileyi (J.M.Coult. & W.H.Evans) Drescher – F; > Cornus stolonifera Michx. var. stolonifera – F