(Alaskan bunchberry) is a small dogwood species that is found along the Pacific Coast in North America (BC, AK, CA, ID, OR, WA) (USDA 2010
). In British Columbia, it is primarily coastal in distribution. Plants in the Fraser Valley are considered to be this species. Alaskan bunchberry flowers in our region from June through August at higher elevations.
Species description: Perennial herb. Stem erect, < 20 cm. Leaves 2-8 cm, elliptic to ovate, glabrous or hairy, in a whorl of 4-6 below inflorescence, plus a pair of small ones near the middle of the stem. Inflorescence head-like, 2-4 cm wide, surrounded by 4 conspicuous white, petal-like bracts, 0.8-2.0 mm. Sepals 0.4 mm, petals 1.5 mm, white with purple tips. Fruit a drupe, spherical, 6-8 mm, red, stone smooth. Habitat moist forest and bogs.
Commonly confused with C. canadensis, even in the scientific literature, this is a distinct species. It is an allopolyploid, derived by chromosome doubling in a hybrid of C. canadensis and C. suecica, and apparently originated before the last glaciation. Cornus canadensis differs in having white petals, and the pair of stem leaves are bract-like, < 1 cm long. This is an excellent ornamental.
Note Author: Fred Ganders, 2010