Bunchberry: Wonderful Blooming Understory Groundcover

Bunchberry: Wonderful Blooming Understory Groundcover


Photo Compliments Of Marc Draglewicz

Cornus canadensis, commonly called Dogwood Plant, Creeping Dogwood, or Bunchberry is a perennial, woodland ground cover topped by a whorl of oval, pointed leaves.  Above the leaves rises a dogwood blossom.  Bunchberry is easily identified by the whorl of leaves and the cluster of tiny greenish flowers that are surrounded by 4 ovate white or pinkish bracts.  A cluster of bright red berries will follow the blooms. The leaves, which are dark-green and shiny in summer, become a beautiful wine-red in fall. The plant spreads by underground stems so over time it forms a glossy mat, a perfect carpet for the shaded garden, or under trees when the conditions are right.

Blooms will arrive in late spring and early summer; they are then followed in late summer by bright scarlet berries.  During the fall the leaves turn crimson and deep red. The berries are an ideal food source for birds.

The growing range for this plant is throughout Canada and the northern half of the United States. On the west coast it is native to Washington and Oregon in low to high-elevation forests.

How To Make Your Bunchberry Thrive

It grows best in cool, moist, acidic soils, in full to partial shade.  It’s shallow roots cannot withstand summer heat and dry soil with temperatures above sixty-five degrees. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.  When you are planting space plants 2  to 3 feet apart, (closer for faster coverage).  You will need to control weeds with mulch until the plants cover the area.

General Bunchberry Information

Pests And Disease



Bunchberry can be propagated by cuttings. Take cuttings below the ground level in mid July through August.


Prune or cut back during the spring time frame.

Garden Uses

This is a perfect native to fill out landscaping under evergreen and deciduous trees. Bunchberry works as an excellent edging along sidewalks and flagstone paths. It is also an ideal choice for wild gardens and habitat, as well as easing transition from the cultivated landscape to natural open spaces.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Cornaceae
  • Plant Type: Deciduous/evergreen  
  • Hardiness Zone: Zones 2 to 8
  • Bloom Season: Late spring to early summer
  • Growth Habit: Prostrate
  • Plant Height: 3 inches to 8 inches
  • Plant Spread: 2 to 3 feet
  • Bloom Size: 1 to 2 inches
  • Bloom Color: White
  • Foliage Color: Dark Green
  • Light Requirements: Part shade, shade
  • Soil Tolerance: Normal, loamy       
  • Water Needs: Wet or constantly moist soil
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Special Features: Attracts birds, fall color, showy fruit

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  1. There is quite a bit of this along a small stream not far from here. I always look forward to seeing it, should be a few weeks from now.
    Montucky recently posted..A scene changesMy Profile

    • It is really prevalent in our forested areas as well. Being so close to the mountains one of the amazing things you see is that spring rolls in from late April until late June and even early July as you go up in elevation. You can see bunchberry bloom over quite a period of time.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I really enjoy your blog; your photos are amazing.
      Charlie@Seattle Trekker recently posted..BunchberryMy Profile

  2. I was just taking pictures of this plant the other day. Ours are suffering a bit this year and showing yellowish leaves, probably because of early heat and a mini, 2 week drought we had in April.

  3. Each time I visit you here, I learn something new, Charlie.
    Thank you for that!
    Have a fantastic weekend!

  4. I’m not sure if I have ever noticed this plant. The leaves are quite beautiful.
    Amy recently posted..Stained Glass in ChicagoMy Profile

    • It likes forested areas that are damp and the temperatures are not too high. When there are fallen rotting logs it increases the acidity of soil and with the other two conditions the plant thrives.
      Charlie@Seattle Trekker recently posted..BunchberryMy Profile

  5. I’m going to keep an eye out for this- thanks for the info Charlie!
    Watching Seasons recently posted..A Warbler Trapped in a Duck Blind.My Profile

    • Forested areas with downed and rotting trees, areas that stay moist, and areas that do not get hit with higher temperatures and drought are all keys to finding it. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

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