Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)Also known as: crackerberry, dwarf cornel
Bloom time: May – June

Additional photos:

General: Low, erect woodland plant, about 10 cm tall, that grows in colonies.

Leaves & Twigs: Plants arise from thread-like, creeping roots from which unbranched stems sprout.

Flowers & Fruits:

  • Each plant has a single cluster with four showy white bracts that look like petals, which are tiny and either green, purple, or cream-coloured.
  • The fruits are red berries that appear later in the summer.

Habitat: A forest plant, bunchberry tolerates a variety of soil and site conditions.

PlantWatch Pointers: Select a typical patch of plants, if the plants are very abundant, mark off a 1-metre-square section to observe.

To Observe: When flowers open, black central dots are visible (these are the stigmas).

  • First bloom: when the first flowers are open in the observed plants.
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers are open in the observed plants.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Tiny insects can trigger an explosive opening of mature bunchberry flowers, and are showered with pollen as they fly away.