Happy Friday and Happy It’s-Just-One-Week-Until-Spring!!!
I saw the Bunchberry plant (Cornus canadensis), a subshrub member of the dogwood family, for the first time ever during my Crater Lakes hike in the James Peak Wilderness last summer. It was a surprising find as I had been on that same trail the summer before and that patch of Bunchberry plants was nowhere to be seen.
The white part of the plant that looks like a flower actually consists of bracts. The flowers are the much smaller white blooms huddled in the center of the four large white bracts. Later in the season, these flowers develop into a cluster (or bunch, as it were) of edible bright red berry-like fruits called drupes.
I discovered something very interesting about this plant while I was researching it for this post: it has one of the fastest plant actions in the entire plant world. Pollen is released from the tiny Bunchberry flowers in a very explosive manner in a process that take about .05 milliseconds. Check out THIS VIDEO, shot at an astonishing 10,000 frames per second, to see a Bunchberry flower releasing its pollen.