Other Names: Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, quatre-temps, crackerberry, creeping dogwood
Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood family)
Range: Native to eastern Asia (Japan, Korea, northeastern China and the Russian Far East, northern USA, Colorado, New Mexico, Canada and Greenland
Native Habitat: Forests, generally mountain forests in the continental US.
Bloom Time: May to September
Unlike most of its relatives, which are trees and shrubs, this plant is a creeping, ground covering perennial. It’s known to form dense carpets under trees, which are often made up of clones.
Like its relatives, those white petals you’re seeing aren’t really petals – they’re bracts. So the actual flowers are the tiny bits in the middle. Later in the season, those flowers form bright red berries. The berries can be eaten, those apparently the seed instead is pretty dense, and not fun to chew.
This is one of the first plants that helped me realize how diverse species can be. I’ve known about dogwood trees for years, but finding out that this tiny little plant was a close relative to those trees was a revelation to me. (Must have been on a Girl Scout camping weekend – that event occurred way back in the misty depths of my mind.)
Formerly Cornus canadensis. This was recently changed as the dogwoods have been reclassified. (This genus was created at the same time as Swida.) The new name is from the Greek chamai – for ground and dwarf, and periklymenon, a mythical creature whose name was given to honeysuckle. (Not exactly sure how that relates, but that’s what I could find.)
Locations in Photos:
Saco Heath Preserve, Saco, ME
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME