Cornus suecica L.
This is a lovely, low-growing, white-flowered plant. Emerging from rhizomes, the flowering stems are upright, 4" to 12" tall. The oval, pointed leaves, with distinct parallel veins, are held in whorls around the stem. What appears to be four broad white petals are actually petaloid bracts. They often have what looks like a rosy stain. The bracts surround a dense cluster of tiny flowers which later develop into shiny red berries. The berries are pulpy and rather inedible, but not poisonous.
Dwarf dogwood is common in the crowberry heath and dry meadows and often covers large areas. In the fall the leaves turn scarlet and ruddy purple.
Circumboreal and found throughout the Aleutians.
A hybrid between Cornus suecica and a close relative which is very rare in the eastern Aleutians, Canadian dwarf cornel (Cornus canadensis), is also found on Unalaska, Cornus canadensis L. x suecica L. (= C. un-alaschensis Ledeb.). This plant usually has only two leaf whorls along the stem, with leaves in the upper whorl being much larger than those below. The tiny flowers on the hybrid may be yellowish green, or at least lighter than the purplish black flowers seen on C. suecica. Considerable variation exists among these three dwarf dogwoods and the technical descriptions found in Hulten (1960, 1968) may be needed to identify them.
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