Herblike shrubs, perennial, rhizomatous, 10–20 cm tall. Rhizomes creeping, slender. Vertical stems slender, unbranched. Leaves opposite, often appearing as a whorl of 6 at terminal node due to compression of internodes, 2 larger and 4 smaller; smaller ones developing from axillary buds of larger leaves; leaves at lower nodes rudimentary; petiole 2–3 mm; leaf blade obovate to ± diamond-shaped, 3.5–4.8 × 1.5–2.5 cm, papery, veins 2 or 3, base cuneate, margin entire, apex shortly acuminate. Inflorescences compound cymes, terminal; bracts white, broadly ovate, 0.8–1.2 × 0.5–1.1 cm, with 7 parallel veins. Flowers white, ca. 2 mm in diam. Calyx tube obovate, ca. 1 mm, densely pubescent with grayish white appressed trichomes; teeth higher than disk. Petals reflexed, creamy white, ovate-lanceolate, 1.5–2 mm. Stamens ca. 1 mm; anthers yellowish white, narrowly ovoid. Style ca. 1 mm, glabrous. Fruit red at maturity, globose, ca. 5 mm in diam.; stones ellipsoid-ovoid. Fl. Jul–Aug, fr. Aug–Sep.
Stems erect, green, 5–25 cm, appressed-hairy; nodes 4–6, internodes progressively longer distally; branches only at distalmost node, much shorter than distal internodes so stems appear unbranched. Leaves at all but distalmost node non-chlorophyllous, opposite, scalelike, caducous, at distalmost node chlorophyllous, appearing to be in whorl of 6 (sometimes 4 on sterile stems), well developed, persistent; distalmost leaves: petiole 0.5–2.8 mm; blade obovate, ovate, elliptic, or rhombic, 2–7 × 1–4.5 cm, apex acute or short acuminate, abaxial surface pale green, sparsely appressed-hairy to glabrate, adaxial surface green, appressed-hairy; secondary veins 2–3 per side, all arising from proximal 1/2. Inflorescences 12–40-flowered; peduncle 10–30 mm; primary branches 0.5–2.5 mm; bracts greenish white to white, occasionally red-tipped or red-tinged, ± equal, ovate, 5–15 × 5–15 mm, apex acute to acuminate. Pedicels 0.5–3 mm, sparsely appressed-hairy. Flowers: hypanthium cream, 1–2 mm, densely appressed-hairy; sepals cream, turning purple as fruit matures, 0.1–0.3 mm, apex rounded, membranous, glabrous, eglandular; petals cream, 1–2 mm, apical awn 0.3–1.2 mm; nectary cream or purplish black. Drupes 5–15 per infructescences, red, globose, 6–9 mm; stone ovoid, 2.3–3.3 × 1.7–2.3 mm, smooth, apex rounded. 2n = 22, 44.
"Shrub 1–5 m, often forming thickets; twigs glabrous, at first green, soon becoming tan and eventually gray-brown; old bark mostly smooth and gray; pith white (tan); lvs lanceolate to elliptic, mostly 4–8 cm, a third to half as wide, abruptly acuminate, cuneate at base, often papillose-whitened beneath, sparsely strigose to glabrous on both sides, with 3 or 4(5) lateral veins to a side; infls often very numerous, convex to often pyramidal and paniculiform; fr at first leaden, becoming white (light blue), 5–8 mm, on reddish pedicels; 2n=22. Moist soil, woods, thickets, roadsides, and streambanks; Me. and s. Que. to s. Man., s. to Va., s. Ill., and Mo., adjoining but only slightly overlapping the range of no. 6 [Cornus stricta Lam.]; the two might well be considered vars. of one sp. (C. paniculata; ? C. foemina, a doubtful name)"
|Bunchberry, dwarf cornel, quatre-temps|