Cornus canadensis

Bunchberry

Cornus canadensis, Bunchberry

Bunchberry in Bloom
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Cornus, from the Latin, cornu, "horn, antler"
  • canadensis, from the Latin, "of Canada"
  • Bunchberry, from the appearance of the tightly clustered fruits.
  • Other common names include Bunchberry Dogwood, Dwarf Dogwood, Canadian Bunchberry, Dogwood Bunchberry
  • .

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Rosidae, the Roses
        • Order Cornales, the Dogwoods
          • Family Cornaceae, the Dogwoods
            • Genus Cornus, the Dogwoods
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 27816
  • Also known as Chamaepericlymenum canadensis, Cornella canadensis

Description:

  • A low, deciduous, rhizomatous shrublet, only 2"- 8" tall.
  • Flowers tiny white clusters surrounded by four large white bracts, giving the appearance of a single blossom.
  • Fruit a coral red drupe.

Identification:

Distribution:

  • Alaska to Newfoundland,
  • Northern North America, south in mountains. Also Northeast Asia
  • Southern limit of range may be due to its preference for cool, acidic soils and its inability to survive in summer soils warmer than 65º F.

Habitat:

  • Shade; growth most vigorous in partial shade.
  • Moist, well drained sites prefered
  • Cool, acidic soil (pH 3.0 to 7.9)

Fire:

  • Survive all but severe fires that remove the duff and heat the upper soil for an extended period and may survive hotter fires in moist sites such as depressions.

Associates:

History:

Uses:

  • Edible; jelly made from fruits.

Reproduction:

  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes
  • Flowers July/August
  • Self-sterile; dependent on pollinators such as bumblebees, solitary bees, beeflies, and syrphid flies. The flowers have one petal with an awnlike extension that initiates the explosive release of pollen.
  • Seed dispersal by animal consumers
  • Seeds require cold stratification to break dormancy; germinates over a 3-year period, with most germinating in the first two years. Light may be required for germination.
  • Low fruit set, low germination and survival rates, and slow early growth limit reproduction by seed; most regeneration is by rhizome.
  • Rhizomes develop woody growth rings; examples have been found which are over 15' long and 36 years old!

Propagation:

  • By seed, following cold stratification.
  • Division most successful method

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Slender and shallow rhizomes vulnerable to soil disturbance.
  • Prefers cool, acidic soils; cannot survive in summer soils warmer than 65º F.

Links:

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Last updated on 7 March, 2006