Often overshadowed by its neighbours in summer, dogwood comes into its own in the depths of winter when a splash of vibrant red is a welcome sight during the cold months.

This small broadleaved shrub earned its name from its smooth straight twigs which were once used to makes butchers skewers. Skewers were referred to as ‘dags’ or ‘dogs’ so the name translates as ‘skewer wood’. Dogwood is extremely hard and is said to have been used to construct the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

This species is native to Europe, Asia and North America and is often associated with woodland edges and hedgerows as well as a regular ornamental garden plant due to its eye-catching colour over winter.

Mature trees can grow up to 10m tall. The bark is grey and smooth with ridges that form over time and twigs are straight, smooth and slim. The leaves of dogwood have characteristic curving veins and are fresh green in colour. If in doubt, when pulled apart the leaves produce a stringy latex like substance and the flowers have an unpleasant smell!

Illustration by Joanna Uglow