Bunchberry or Canadian Dogwood

Bunchberry or Canadian Dogwood, Cornus canadensis

Bucnchberry in bloom, photographer Bob Herzer

Bunchberry, also called Canadian Dogwood begins blooming in the lower woodlands early in June and blooms later as you go up in elevation. This slow spreading herbaceous subshrub spreads by slender woody Rhizomes often forming thick mats of plants where soil is moist, rich in humus and shade to filtered sunshine.  In the higher alpines you will often find this plant growing more out in the open along marshes often growing with blueberries. 

Bunchberry fruit, photographer Martha Rasmussen

You will find Bunchberry growing at Texas Pond, hiking along the Harold Engels Memorial Trail and  Whitechuck Bench TrailLater in June as the snow melts, many of our scenic backroads will take you winding up to beautiful alpine meadows such as Whitechuck Ridge and Cumberland Pass where you will find an array of wildflowers such as Bunchberry, Mountain Marsh Marigold and Saxifrage.

Bunchberry leaves in late autumn, photographer Martha Rasmussen

This is the smallest of the dogwood family growing to height of 7 inches and is related to the Pacific Dogwood towering up to 60 feet.  Later in Summer when the petals turn streaked with rose and purple, they will dry and fall off leaving a cluster of drupes," bright red berries".  The settlers often referred to the fruits of Bunchberry as "Pudding Berry" and used them as thickener for cooking.  By late autumn most of the fruit will be gone due to being a favorite food source for wildlife.  The leaves turn to a reddish brown or scarlet sometimes lasting all through winter.