Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

You are here

Photo for species Cornus_canadensis

Cornus canadensis is one of two primary forage plants for mule deer and black-tailed deer throughout the growing season in Alaska. Other wildlife, like moose, also use this plant for food. In addition, birds and small mammals eat its fruit and buds, sometimes year-round. Its berries are used for jellies and pies, and are also eaten fresh. Additionally, the plant is used medicinally. In a field study, it was found to have properties that neutralize acid rain, possibly due to the calcium present in the trichomes of its leaves.

Photo Credit:
© R.A. Howard, USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution, Dept. of Systematic Biology, Botany.

Cornus canadensis

bunchberry dogwood
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Bunchberry dogwood is an erect, deciduous to evergreen, perennial, herbaceous plant growing 2 to 10 inches tall. Plants often form large colonies by creeping underground stems. Its tiny white flowers are inconspicuous, have both male and female parts, and are centrally clustered. They are surrounded by four large, white bracts that look like petals, rendering it very showy. Flowers are pollinated by insects.

Bunchberry dogwood is usually found in uplands in moist forest environments and occasionally in wetlands and bogs. It prefers moist, well-drained sites and acidic soils.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AB, AK, BC, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MB, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NB, ND, NH, NJ, NL, NM, NS, NT, NU, NY, OH, ON, OR, PA, PE, QC, RI, SD, SK, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY, YT
Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Initial growth
New growth of the plant is visible after a period of no growth (winter or drought), either from above-ground buds with green tips, or new green or white shoots breaking through the soil surface. Growth is considered "initial" on each bud or shoot until the first leaf has fully unfolded. For seedlings, "initial" growth includes the presence of the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) before the first true leaf has unfolded.

Leaves
One or more live, fully unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. For seedlings, consider only true leaves and do not count the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) that are found on the stem almost immediately after the seedling germinates. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

Flowers

Do you see...?

Flowers or flower buds
One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds or inflorescences that are swelling or expanding, but do not include those that are tightly closed and not actively growing (dormant). Also do not include wilted or dried flowers.

How many flowers and flower buds are present? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), simply estimate the number of flower heads, spikes or catkins and not the number of individual flowers.

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...

Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers. For Cornus canadensis, ignore the four large, white bracts and watch for the opening of the small flowers in the center of the bracts.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), estimate the percentage of all individual flowers that are open.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Cornus canadensis, the fruit is berry-like and changes from green to bright red.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...

Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Cornus canadensis, a fruit is considered ripe when it has turned bright red.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

More...

Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;More than 1,000

More...