Flower Project

Bunchberry

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is a carpet-like mat, circumpolar, ground flora in forests. The creeping roots from which the upper plants spring are up to 7.5 cm deep in the tree litter.

As the snow melts away, short stems of the bunchberry clone bearing six leaves with prominent veins somewhat parallel to smooth leaf edges appear. At the top of each stem a flower assemblage of 4 white outer bracts and a cluster of regular stamens with yellow (pollen) anthers and smooth dark pistils in the middle. When the pollen is ripe the touch of a tiny trigger hair on one of the petals, for example, by a visiting insect, causes the flower bud to open explosively and the stamens to shoot out pollen.

After pollination, bright-red berries form at the top of the pistils. During the summer these slowly enlarge and become red edible fruit for many birds and animals.

WASKAHEGAN FIELD NOTES

It is believed that pollination is triggered by small insects in less than half a millisecond, making bunchberry the fastest plant in the world. Check out this Youtube video.  It’s a good thing it doesn’t make a noise we can hear!

The Pipestone Creek section of the trail just east of A49 has a vast carpet of bunchberry.

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