Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bunchberry Dogwood, Creeping Dogwood
Genus:Cornus
Family:Cornaceae (Dogwood)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; acidic soil; moist woods, bogs
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] A single cluster of tiny greenish to creamy white stalked flowers in the center of four large white bracts that look like petals. Flowers have 4 creamy yellow stamens and a dark, reddish brown style in the center. The bracts are broadly oval, tapered to a soft point; typically one pair of opposite bracts is slightly larger than the other pair. The cluster, including bracts, is about ¾ to 1 inch across with a single cluster at the top of the stem.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 2 or 3 pairs of leaves, appearing as a whorl of 4 or 6 leaves, is just below the flower cluster, with a few pairs of small to scale-like opposite leaves along the lower stem. Leaves are broadly elliptic to diamond-shaped, 1½ to 3 inches long, toothless, sometimes wavy around the edges, tapered to a soft point at the tip, tapering at the base to a short stalk. 2 to 3 pairs of laterals veins arise from the base end of the midvein. Surfaces are variably covered in appressed hairs though may become smooth. Usually if whorled in 4s they are all of similar size; if 6, one opposite pair is slightly larger than the other 2 pairs. Stems are unbranched, arsing from creeping woody rhizomes on the ground.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a round berry about 3/16 inch across that ripens to bright red.

Notes:

A species of cool, moist woods and bogs, Bunchberry's woody rhizomes can form large dense colonies in northern boreal forests that—both in flower or in fruit—produce stunning arrays.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Native Plant Society

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at PrairieMoon.com!

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Cass and St. Louis counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kelly - Deer River
on: 2011-06-18 12:04:49

Saw this flower in a small colony a drive yesterday. 6/18/2011. It was a new one to me and I am so glad I was able to identify it.

Posted by: J. Arthur - Zippel Bay State Park, Lake of the Woods County
on: 2011-06-24 22:55:17

We were hiking in the park last week (6-21-11) and saw carpets of these in the understory along the trail. They were gorgeous, and I used your site to identify them. Excellent images, so thank you!

Posted by: Roberta - Eveleth MN
on: 2011-06-26 00:53:40

Beautiful in the undergrowth at the Wellstone Memorial site.

Posted by: Leone - Northern St. Louis County, Sturgeon Township
on: 2011-07-01 07:54:39

The flower provides prolific groundcover in the North Woods.

Posted by: James - Colvill - East of Grand Marais
on: 2011-07-07 14:18:47

I've been searching wildflower sites since I bought my place off Lake Superior 5 years ago. A large portion of my property was largely cleared by the previous owner, so I wanted to make sure that native plants took hold as it re-vegetated. Every year I had heaps of invasive plants (don't have the names at hand) that I pulled up, but I'm glad to say, my place is filling in with all sorts of beautiful native (or cohesive) varieties. Dogwood, Asters,Yarrow, and Indian grass. Also, I just identified what I thought was Indian brush as Hawks weed, and now I have found through your site what that broad leaf plant that seems to thrive in the small clearings in the woods. Grateful to have found this site. It is now bookmarked!

Posted by: Linda - Campground 35 miles N. of Grand Rapids
on: 2012-05-28 16:17:55

We spotted these very striking plants in a red pine forest in the Chippewa National Forest.

Posted by: Alli - Grand Portage State Park
on: 2012-05-30 17:49:12

I saw many of these on the hiking trail to the lower falls in Grand Portage. Your site helped me to identify them.

Posted by: Cheryl - Lakeville
on: 2013-07-31 13:39:15

These are such beautiful plants. I had to know what they were. Had to go elsewhere to ID because it had berries when I saw them, but after I knew the name came here to verify info. I am told the berries make good jelly.

Posted by: Andrea K - Duluth
on: 2016-04-14 15:18:54

Lester River Park - on higher ground.

Posted by: Janet - Bohall Trail, Itasca State Park
on: 2016-09-09 19:55:03

I was surprised to find a Bunchberry bloom so late in the season, growing right next to another Bunchberry plant that had gone to fruit and lost its berries. Not sure if that happens often but I thought it was interesting.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-09-09 21:59:50

Janet, many spring blooming plants respond to a combination of temperature and amount of daylight. When conditions are right they can bloom again later in the season.

Posted by: Haley - Duluth
on: 2017-06-03 14:43:21

I found a plant very similar to this in almost all ways, except that the leaves are certainly hairy. With minute fine hairs covering the leaves. I don't see a species like that on your website. Any idea what it is? I found it along Split Rock Creek.

Posted by: Emily - Grand Marais and Judge C.R. Magney State Park
on: 2017-06-22 10:46:04

Saw these 6/20/17, all along trail to Devil's Kettle, as well as in Grand Marais by Artist's Point.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.