The cure for insanity

Cornus canadensis – Bunchberry or Dwarf cornel, creeping dogwood
Native range: Eastern Asia to Far East Russia, Canada, Greenland, Northern USA

We are in for a steamy week ahead; certainly not my idea of great weather. The creeping dogwood also likes it cool. Usually the name Cornus makes us think of trees and shrubs. But this is a lovely perennial dogwood, which grows only to 15-20 cm tall, with leaves arranged in whorls of 4 or 6. The flowers, typical for a Cornus, are easy recognizable after the 4 large, white petal-like bracts. The fruit is an attractive, red, globe-shaped drupe, persistent, and also edible; especially birds are very fond on consuming the fruits during the fall migration.

Cornus canadensis flowers

Cornus canadensis flowers

Among its uses by the Natives Americans I found the mention of fruits consumption as a cure for insanity!

(Maybe I should try to sell fruits instead of seeds – I might get rich; or I can eat them all and have at least my plant-insanity taken care of).

Cornus canadensis fruits

Cornus canadensis fruits

Desirable as a groundcover in any shade garden, where it will form a carpet underneath small trees or shrubs; I have also seen it growing on old tree stumps on top of moss, which would be great to try to ‘reproduce’ in a shady corner. It needs a slightly acidic substrate and a really cool location in part-shade to shade.

Propagation: by seed (difficult germination, but there are protocols available) and division.

Cornus canadensis with Linnaea borealis

Cornus canadensis with Linnaea borealis in a cool, moist forest

Note: Linnaea borealis – twinflower, it was the favourite plant of Carl Linnaeus from when exploring the northern part of Sweden (and the only species that bears his name). A delicate, evergreen woodland plant, with short stems that bear pairs of nodding, pink flowers usually in June. Borealis –‘northern’ refers to its distribution in forests of the northern hemisphere (circumpolar).


7 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      You can give it a try in the fall again by seeds, and maybe I will provide dry berries too for those in need…
      (it really needs a cool, moist spot and improved substrate – anything that would acidify it: pine needles compost, peat)

  1. Brian Carson
    Brian Carson says:

    Dr. Mosquin described the unusual explosive pollination mechanism of this little gem several years ago in BEN. Check it out next spring when you are poking around the garden or woods.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thanks, that’s really interesting! – always something new to learn about…There is a small population in the nearby woods that I can check in the spring (for collecting I have to go a
      bit up north).

Comments are closed.