Cornus canadensis (bunchberry) is an easy care groundcover for the shade under trees, that develops great Fall colour. The leaves turn from green to a handsome red, making an eye-catching Autumn display. All of these photos are showing their seasonal colour change.
My bunchberry are planted in the shade under an evergreen, on the side that gets almost no direct light. Despite the deep shade, the plants grow well, and make a green carpet over the summer, needing no real attention. They would probably get more flowers in medium shade, or the shade of deciduous trees. This groundcover looks much prettier than half dead grass, or a rock mulch under the evergreen boughs.
The bunchberry are right at home in the forest atmosphere under the tall spruce. The spruce cones, dropped needles, and cone scales left by squirrels blend with the plants to make a natural forest floor under the trees.
My bunchberry grow about 13 cm (5 inches) tall, but I’ve seen them a little taller than that in the wild. They spread to make an attractive green carpet of leaves under the trees. Earlier in the season they have what looks like white flowers, but are 4 large white decorative bracts, with small flowers in the middle. They can develop into large red berry clusters.
Bunchberry are especially attractive as the Autumn chill sets in, when they develop a deep red colour. Soon, all of the leaves are a deep scarlet red, brightening the ground under the evergreens.
In the photo above you can see the full red and purple Fall colour of the foliage. It is very striking, rising up out of the brown cones and needle mulch. Cornus canadensis is especially attractive white flowers in late spring or red leaves in autumn.
If you are looking for a low maintenance groundcover perennial for a shady site, bunchberry will make a natural woodsy look. The dramatic Autumn colour change is an added bonus. You can see more photos of Cornus canadensis in my garden here, including pictures of the plants in flower.
Here is a collage showing the different stages of colour change for some of the bunchberry plants.