Native SpeciesBunchberry

Cornus canadensis
FOUND by ns2me
ID Confirmed
Quality checked by Gayle
Peer reviewed by ns2me
Field Notes
The day couldn't be more beautiful or magical. I was hiking through Shackford Head park with my fellow graduate students and a Passamaquoddy medicine man. We had just finished collecting some medicinal plants at Split Rock (a sacred place) and were headed to a look-out over Cobscook Bay for a picnic lunch. The day was hot, but the trail through the forest was cool, breezy, and smelled of Christmas (thank you Balsam Firs!). I was surprised and thrilled to find small fields of bunchberry as ground cover along the trail. Their flowers had passed, but their berries were just starting to form. Most of the plants had small green berries, but a few were starting to turn a bright shiny red. I asked our guide if these plants had any traditional (native) medicinal uses. Many he said. Bunchberries could be eaten (berry and leaf), and the leaves are known to cure cataracts. Dry the leaves and then re-hydrate them just before bed. Place these leaves over your eyes and tie a bandanna around. In the morning your cataracts will be healed. This makes me wonder what other uses this plant has to us and the forest's animals, and wonder about the powers of the other plants I saw along the trail too.
A sketch of our study site.
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
"What a beautiful ground cover!" As I looked closer I was excited to discover...I think I know what this is, I think this is bunchberry. I know bunchberry grows close to the ground, but I didn't know they grew in such numbers! I needed to look closer.
Photo of my evidence.
As I examined a plant, my clues were the 6 leaves on the plant and the defined veins that travel from the base (and center vein) of the leaf and curve upwards towards the tip of the leaf. But initially I didn't see any flowers or berries, so I looked closer.
Photo of my evidence.
Berries! Many of these plants had small green berries starting to form. Some of them were starting to turn red, a clue that these plants would have the distinctive red berries that bunchberry is known for.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Cornus canadensis
Common name:
Count of individuals: 
3/4 - Completely covered
Fruit (plants)
Sampling method: 
Just looking around
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
We’re sorry, JavaScript is required to view the map. If JavaScript is you may wish to upgrade to a newer browser in order to view this map.
Map this species
N 44.901513 °
W -67.016793 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Upland - Forest
Trip Information
Shackford Head
Trip date: 
Tue, 2011-07-12 13:30
Town or city: 
Type of investigation: 
Species and Habitat Survey
Saint Croix
Habitat Observations
Species diversity: 
10 different species
Evidence of vectors: 
Walking trail
Tree canopy cover: 
Between 1/4 and 1/2
Soil moisture: 


Wow I love all the holistic info you are learning!

I just returned from a wonderful 6 mile hike through Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Edmonds ME and saw bunchberry all along the trail. Some things I noted are that in the sun, bunchberries are bright red and the leaves are much smaller. In the shaded areas, the leaves are much more greener and healthier looking, but still with unripe berries. Also, I had always thought bunchberry had 6 group and I discovered bunchberry with 4, 6, and 8 leaves!! Could it have been a look alike that lives amongst it??

Thanks "sniffly salamander" for your comments and help. I was able to get the correct coordinates on touchmap (cool resource!). You can find Shackford Head Park (and bunchberry) here: latitude 44 53 52.209 longitude -67 00 51.7314 And thank you friendly GMRI folks for fixing my map!!

If your sniffles turn into a cough, according to a Passamaquoddy medicine man, try some balsam fir sap with a drop of raw honey!

Hiya Dr Bunchberry,

Your coordinates need to be in decimal degrees (XX.XXXXX). How did you use itouch and get these units? hmm.

I know that your time is short, so I'm going to go grab coordinates for Shackford Head Park and will update.

You're awesome.
You're missed.

Many thanks GMRI for finding and sharing my secret hiding place...I wish I could share it with you (in a non-digitally way)!

I love how your evidence images and statements tell the story of your investigation... so cool. And so great to get a report from downeast! Thanks, Gayle.


I thought bunchberry was poisonous. Huh, I'll have to look into it. Sounds like an amazing experience though!

You look like a nature journaling master! Check out that sketch. I love it!

I think it is cool to learn about the uses of plants. I recently got a sore throat remedy at the store that has purple loosestrife in it. I picked it because it seemed like a good way to make use of that invasive species. I can't say that it is working all that well, I'm still sniffly and my throat still hurts. But, it is interesting to think that we might be able to harvest invasives for food and medicine. I've had my friend's homemade beach rose hip jam too!

I'm not sure if you are trying to keep your bunchberry patch location secret, but your location marker is out to sea. I hear that you can use this website ( to find your location and get the coordinates in decimal degrees. I also hear that if you comment here with those coordinates that someone at GMRI will fix it.

Keep journaling. Keep learning new things!