Adirondack Wildflowers:  Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) fruiting in late July at the Paul Smiths VIC

Adirondack Wildflowers:
Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Adirondack Wildflowers:  Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) blooming near the Paul Smiths VIC parking lotAdirondack Wildflowers: Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) blooming at the Paul Smiths VIC

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.

Adirondack Wildflowers: Bunchberry fruiting in late July at the Paul Smiths VICAdirondack Wildflowers: Bunchberry fruiting in late July at the Paul Smiths VIC

The genus cornus is Latin for a horn. This plant is also called bunchberry dogwood, dwarf dogwood, Canadian bunchberry, dogwood bunchberry, and dwarf cornel. It is threatened or endangered in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, and Ohio.

Adirondack Wildflowers:  Bunchberry folliage in the fall at the Paul Smiths VIC -- 25 September 2011Among 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.

Bunchberry grows abundantly around the Paul Smiths VIC parking lot, along the path to the Visitor Center Building and along many of the trails, including the Barnum Brook Trail and the Boreal Life Trail. It usually blooms in early summer (late May and early June) and fruits in late July. The folliage turns a lovely wine red in late September.

References:

Explore the VIC

The Paul Smiths VIC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year to educate and inform Adirondack Park residents and visitors about the natural wonders of the Adirondack Mountains. You can help support these programs by joining the Friends of the VIC. More information on Friends of the VIC memberships

Explore the Trails

The VIC trails are free and open to the public, from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers for a fee. Day or season passes may be purchased.