Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)

Cornus canadensis Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry, Dwarf Dogwood)

During a weekend hike in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, I turned the corner on one of the winding trails and unexpectedly came across a cluster of bunchberries beneath tall cedar trees.  This was my favourite find on a lovely, peaceful morning that I topped off with a visit to the garden centre.  And as beautiful as the plants were at Southlands Nursery, nothing surpassed the delicate Cornus canadensis.

At home later, I wanted to learn more about this plant  so I consulted my favourite book on native flora and found a few new online resources.  I especially liked the description at Paghat's garden:

This dogwood (Cornus canadensis) only grows to around eight inches tall. If you get down on your belly, a patch of it looks like the tiniest imaginable dogwood forest. The leaves are the same, the flowers are the same, everything about it is like a big dogwood, only teency.
A shade-loving Northwest native woodland groundcover, it can be a bit fragile in gardens if its needs are imperfectly met, but spreads by underground runners & by seeds thriving marvelously if it finds itself in the right situation.
Yes, fragile...and eventually dead. This is one of those native woodland plants I wanted in my balcony garden a few years ago. But C. canadensis needs moist, shady, cool conditions and prefers to grow near rotting stumps. So unsuitable for my balcony -- like trying to grow a fern in the desert.  


Here are three more excellent links for botanical facts:

Bunchberries of British Columbia (UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research)
Boreal Forest
Cornus canadensis (from Flora, Fauna, Earth and Sky: The Natural History of the North Woods)

Note: Bunchberries are edible so I can legitimately include them on this blog if not in my actual edible balcony garden.