Bunchberry grows to about 25 centimetres tall and has four to seven bright green leaves in a whorl at the top of its stem. Its flowers have four large white “petals” (actually leaves) that appear in early spring. The pollen is exploded from the flowers by a catapult hidden inside them. Bright red berries ripen by August. In the fall, its leaves turn to a crimson red or purple colour.
RANGE & HABITAT
Bunchberry can be found across Canada in forested upland and wetland areas. It prefers to grow in moist soils, with partial shade. Bunchberry grows through underground stems. This plant is considered a circumpolar species; its natural range extends from Greenland across northern North America to northeast Asia.
Bunchberries flower in May and June, later in Northern Mountains and frequently flower a second time in the fall. After the bloom the main flower forms into bunched bright red berries. This plant is found in the Sub-Boreal Interior and the Central Interior ecoprovinces.
Bunchberries are eaten by song birds, grouse, bears, hares and deer.
TRADITIONAL USES BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The berries can be eaten mixed with other berries (huckleberries, saskatoons, etc.) as a glue to hold them together. Sometimes they are steamed and eaten in winter, but the berries are usually considered bear and bird food.
The berries make very tasty sauces and jams.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk