Content Detail

Bunchberry is native in the far northern portions of the United States, but is rare in Illinois. Its need for acid soils limits its use in Illinois. It is a beautiful ground cover with flowers that resemble those of flowering dogwood.

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Dogwood
  • Family (botanic) Cornaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small plant (6-12 inches)
  • Light exposure Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago)
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Slow

Size and Method of spreading:

Bunchberry is a very low-growing ground cover, usually ranging between 4 and 8 inches high. It is a colonizing  ground cover which produces underground stems that spread out horizontally and shallowly, produce roots and then send up new shoots. These plants are strong growers and may have the potential to grow aggressively.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 10. Bunchberry is native to the far northern United States and Canada and is common in forested areas that are cool and moist.

Leaf description:

The elliptic, dark green leaves are whorled at the nodes. The veins of the leaves follow the margin of the leaves as is seen in other dogwoods. The leaves may develop red and yellow tones in autumn.

Flower description:

The true flowers are small and clustered in the center of four white, petal-like bracts.  Flowers are produced in late spring and early summer.

Fruit description:

Red, berry-like fruits are produced in mid-summer.  Fruit can persist into autumn.

Plant care:

Bunchberry does best in a cool, moist shaded site with acidic soils. It is intolerant of foot traffic and does poorly in hot summers.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Bunchberry has no serious pests or diseases. It is resistant to dogwood anthracnose and deer.


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