Bunchberry

Botanical Name :Cornus canadensis
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Subgenus: Chamaepericlymenum
Species: C. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Common Name :Bunchberry,Canadian Dwarf Cornel, Canadian Bunchberry, or Crackerberry,Creeping Dogwood

Habitat:It is native to northern China, far eastern Russia, Japan, and North America in montane and boreal coniferous forests, where it is found growing along the margins of moist woods, on old tree stumps, in mossy areas, and amongst other open and moist habitats.

Description:
Cornus canadensis is a slow-growing perennial herbaceous subshrub growing 10–20 cm tall, generally forming a carpet-like mat. The above-ground shoots rise from slender creeping rhizomes that are placed 2.5–7.5 cm deep in the soil, and form clonal colonies under trees. The vertically produced above-ground stems are slender and unbranched. The leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem, but are clustered with six leaves that often seem to be in a whorl because the internodes are compressed. The leafy green leaves are produced near the terminal node and consist of two types: 2 larger and 4 smaller leaves. The smaller leaves develop from the axillary buds of the larger leaves. The shiny dark green leaves have 2 to 3 mm long petioles and leaf blades that are obovate. The blades have entire margins and are 3.5 to 4.8 cm long and 1.5 to 2.5 cm wide, with 2 or 3 veins and cuneate shaped bases and abruptly acuminate apexes. In the fall, the leaves have red tinted veins and turn completely red. Inflorescences are made up of compound terminal cymes, with large showy white bracts. The bracts are broadly ovate and 0.8 to 1.2 cm long and 0.5 to 1.1 cm wide, with 7 parallel running veins. The lower nodes on the stem have greatly reduced rudimentary leaves. In late spring to mid summer, white flowers are produced that are 2 mm in diameter with reflexed petals that are ovate-lanceolate in shape and 1.5 to 2 mm long. The calyx tube is obovate in shape and 1 mm long covered with densely pubescent hairs along with grayish white appressed trichomes. Stamens are very short, being 1 mm long. The anthers are yellowish white in color, narrowly ovoid in shape. The styles are 1 mm long and glabrous. Plants are for the most part self-sterile and dependent on pollinators for sexual reproduction. Pollinators include bumblebees, solitary bees, beeflies, and syrphid flies. The fruits look like berries but are drupes. The drupes are green, globose round in shape, and turn bright red at maturity in late summer; each fruit is 5 mm in diameter and contains typically one or two ellipsoid-ovoid shaped stone………

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Cultivation:
Bunchberry prefers cool, acidic soils and will not tolerate summersoil temperatures above 65º F. Adequate moisture and good drainage are key and Bunchberry will even grow in rocky crevices if rainfall is sufficient. It can also be grown in bog gardens. It is not tolerant of alkaline soils.

Edible Uses:
The fruits are edible with a mild flavour somewhat like apples. The large seeds within are somewhat hard and crunchy. Birds are the main dispersal agents of the seeds, consuming the fruit during their fall migration. In Alaska, bunchberry is an important forage plant for mule deer, black-tailed deer and moose, which consume it throughout the growing season.

Medicinal Uses:
The flavonoids have earned this plant a reputation as an anti-inflammatory and general analgesic among contemporary herbalists, and researchers are investigating its properties as an anti-cancer agent.  Modern interest in bunchberry’s pharmaceutical qualities may have stemmed from its Native American reputation as an antidote to a variety of poisons.  The leaves have been known to be burned and powdered, then applied to topical sores.  A mild tea made from the roots has been used to treat colic in infants.  The leaves and stems are analgesic, cathartic and febrifuge. A tea has been used in the treatment of aches and pains, kidney and lung ailments, coughs, fevers etc.   The fruits are rich in pectin which is a capillary tonic, antioedemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and hypotensive. Pectin also inhibits carcinogenesis and protects against radiation.  The mashed roots have been strained through a clean cloth and the liquid used as an eyewash for sore eyes and to remove foreign objects from the eyes.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornus_canadensis
http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantdetail&plant_id=116

http://www.paghat.com/bunchberry.html

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