Pl. Pratten. Calif., 89. 1855.
Shrubs or trees, to 5 m, flowering at 2 m. Stems solitary; bark corky; branches splotched with maroon, brown, or red, eventually splitting along longitudinal swellings; branchlets green, densely appressed-hairy; lenticels maroon swellings, often erupting with corky surface. Leaves: petiole 5–10 mm, base encircling twig; blade elliptic, 4–9 × 2–4 cm, base cuneate, apex acute or short acuminate, abaxial surface yellow-green, appressed-hairy, tufts of erect hairs in axils of secondary-veins, adaxial surface dark green, sparsely appressed-hairy; secondary-veins 4–5 per side, most usually arising from basal 1/2. Inflorescences 10–15-flowered; peduncle 0–1 mm; bracts tan or brown, lanceolate, 0.5–1 cm, apex acute. Pedicels lax, apex flared. Flowers: hypanthium narrowly conic, appressed-hairy; sepals 0.1–0.5 mm; petals greenish yellow, lanceolate, 3–4 mm. Drupes maturing from green to yellow, red, then purple-black, ellipsoid, 10–15 × 5–7.5 mm; stone widely fusiform, 8–12 × 4–6 mm, with 2 lateral grooves on distal 2/3.2n = 20.
Phenology: Flowering Mar–Jun; fruiting Aug–Sep.
Habitat: Moist ravines and stream banks.
Elevation: 60–2000 m.
Cornus sessilis is restricted to northern California, generally in the Klamath Range, Cascade Range, and northern Sierra Nevada, and southern Oregon in the Siskiyou Mountains.