Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Cornus canadensis

Bunchberry dogwood, Canadian bunchberry

Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)
Glase, Terry
The slender 3-6 in. stalks of this perennial, woodland ground cover are topped by a whorl of oval, pointed leaves above which rises a white to greenish, dogwood blossom. Erect stems grow in extensive low patches, with 1 whorl of leaves at top and, just above, a cluster of tiny greenish flowers surrounded by 4 ovate white or pinkish bracts. The flower cluster resembles a single large flower held on a short stalk above leaves. A cluster of bright red berries follows. The leaves, which are dark-green and shiny in summer, become wine-red in fall. It spreads by underground stems.

Among the smallest of a genus of mostly shrubs and trees, Bunchberry makes an excellent ground cover in the moist woodland garden and is equally attractive in flower or fruit. Its natural range extends from Greenland across northern North America to northeast Asia. In the continental US, it is limited mostly to mountainous regions. This showy wildflower and Northern Dwarf Cornel (C. suecica) of the northern forests are the only herbs in the dogwood group, the other members being trees or shrubs. C. suecica ranges across northern Eurasia and much of northern North America, as far south as the St. Lawrence River and as far east as Nova Scotia. It has small purple flowers surrounded by 4 bracts.

The genus cornus is Latin for a horn.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Red
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AK , CO , CT , ID , IL , IN , IA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MT , NH , NJ , NM , NY , ND , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , VT , VA , WA , WV , WI , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Greenland across northern North America to northeast Eurasia. Lab. to AK, s. to MD, VA mts., OH, MN, SD, NM mts. & n. CA.
Native Habitat: Coniferous & mixed woods; thickets; cedar swamps; damp openings

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Damp, cool, acid soil or peat moss.
Conditions Comments: Bunchberry makes an excellent ground cover in cool, damp, acidic places. Mulching with peat moss or pine needles is beneficial.


Use Food: In late summer, dense clusters of small, red berries replace the flowers. Some people enjoy these juicy fruits, with their crunchy little seeds, but others consider them mealy and tasteless. Bunchberries can be eaten as a trail nibble or added to puddings, preserves and sauces. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2013-06-21