Botanical description: This description covers characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g., [84,88,112,114,255,318]).
Redosier dogwood is a multistemmed, erect to loosely spreading, deciduous shrub that grows 3 to 20 feet (1-6 m) tall and often as wide [31,116,235,312,324]. Shrubs often form clumps or dense thickets by stolons [230,327] and prostrate, rooting stems and lower branches [154,282]. It is these rooting stems and branches that gave redosier dogwood its previously recognized stolonifera species name . While Rickett  concluded that these rooting stems and branches are "not differentiated stolons" in redosier dogwood, several authors describe spread via stolons (see Vegetative regeneration). Stolons can extend as far as 10 feet (3 m) from the parent plant (Geisler 1985 personal communication, cited in ). Redosier dogwood branches are opposite , and twigs are generally less than 2 mm in diameter . Growth form and size of redosier dogwood are highly variable and many local forms exist [36,112]. While most often a multibranched shrub, in areas with a dense grass layer redosier dogwood may be restricted to a single main stem. In Alaska and Alberta, redosier dogwood generally grows 3 to 10 feet (1-3 m) tall, but at more southern latitudes, generally reaches 10 to 20 feet (3-5 m) tall. A near maximum height observed in British Columbia was 30 feet (9 m) . Shrubs growing in full sun are typically dense and compact, with many lateral branches; shrubs growing in shade are typically open and sprawling, with few branches. Redosier dogwood leaves growing in the shade are generally larger and thinner than those growing in full sun . When researchers collected redosier dogwood clones from 21 sites as far north as Alaska and as far south as Colorado, they found no consistent growth form. Extreme upright clones were collected from the upper Midwest, and decumbent forms were collected along the Chalk River in Ontario and Massachusetts. Stems with heavy pubescence were collected from areas with dry, cold, continental climates .
Redosier dogwood leaves are simple, entire, and opposite , and generally measure 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) long and about one-third to two-thirds as wide [84,88,160]. Leaves are mostly oval shaped [112,235,255,312]. Redosier dogwood produces small, perfect flowers that are densely clustered in a terminal, flat-topped to slightly rounded cyme [112,160,255,271,282]. Individual flowers have 4 stamens and 4 petals that are 2 to 4 mm [9,114,235]. Inflorescences generally have 4 to 6 main branches and measure 0.8 to 2.4 inches (2-6 cm) across [88,200]. Redosier dogwood shrubs in West Virginia had small inflorescences with few flowers . Redosier dogwood produces white to blue, berry-like drupes that measure 4 to 10 mm in diameter [200,255,312]. Generally 10 to 30 fruits develop per inflorescence .
The redosier dogwood root system was not well described in the available literature (as of 2012). One paper described it as non-taprooted .
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