On a moist spring day in June, I spotted my first bunchberry. It was blooming in the dappled shade, beside an old stump in Strathcona Park.
You know how it is, once you notice something, you suddenly start seeing it everywhere?
That’s what it’s like with Cornus canadensis.
It was in an old clear-cut near Jordan River (also Vancouver Island) , I found it again.
Even in full sun, it seems decaying wood is bunchberry’s happy place.
The underground rhizomes spread out, creating a matt of blooms – – almost a meadow 🙂 No wonder it’s also called creeping dogwood. What a beautiful transition for a logging debris field.
After getting comfortable identifying the dwarf dogwood flowers, it became my mission to find the plant in berry. Shouldn’t be hard, right? After all, it’s named bunchberry.
It was 1000 km away, seeking shade from a scorching summer day at Fairmont Hot Springs in the Rocky Mountains when I found the berries.
Now I realize why the latin name Cornus canadensis makes sense. They grow all across Canada.
The bright orangey-red berries stand out, even in the dappled shade of the understory.
Apparently, they’re edible, but I didn’t test them. Alongside this well-travelled trail, and easily below a dog’s hip level… ?? Nope. I was a teeny bit squeamish.
Back on the coast, near Tofino, the bunchberries persisted.
– – in October!
Isn’t that a good way to mark Thanksgiving?
Word has it that bunchberry leaves turn a beautiful red color in the fall. I noted some autumn color, but perhaps there’s more to come?
It’s also reported semi-evergreen in the Pacific Northwest… so now I have a new mission. Do you know where I might find more nearby to monitor through winter?