Bunchberry - Cornus canadensis

Why Get to know this plant:

The flowers are beautiful in the spring and the whole plant contains medicinal aspirin-like effects that decrease inflammation, fever and pain without causing stomach irritability. The dried berries can be used in a tea to treat headaches, fevers, diarrhea, dysentery and inflammation of the stomach or large intestine. As a topical application, the berries act as an anodyne to relieve pain.


Where This Plant grows:

Shade loving little plant grows on moist well drained sites. Forms mats over the ground or along tree bark in moist coniferous woods especially over well-logged areas on rotten logs and stumps. In well established areas bunchberry literally blankets the ground.


How to Identify:

Low perennial, 5 to 20 cm tall growing along creeping rhizomes. Leaves are elliptical with well defined veins running longitudinally. Leaves are arranged in groups of 5 to 7. Flowers are miniature dogwood flowers, consisting of four white petals and a central cluster of true flowers with tiny greenish-white petals. The true flowers in the center is what produce the red-orange berries that when ripe have a yellowish pulp and hard central seed.  Berries are ripe in late summer.


Parts Used:

Dried fruits and leaves. Root used on occasion.


Herbal Actions:

Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, anodyne, antispasmotic, astringent, hypotensive, tonic


Medicinal Constituents:

Cornine, cornic acid, flavonoids, querceitin, salicylic acid, tannins



Do not use this plant during pregnancy or if you have a pre-existing kidney condition.



Turner, Nancy (1995) Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples. Royal BC Museum Handbook. Victoria BC. p. 71

Keane, Kahlee (2015) The Standing People: Wild Medicinal Plants of British Columbia – First Edition. National Library of Canada Cataloguing. p.60-61