Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis L.)

Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Common name: Common Buttonbush
Scientific name: Cephalanthus occidentalis L.
Family: Madder Family (Rubiaceae)

Attracts: Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds for its nectar. Bees use it to produce honey.

Wildlife: It has exceptional wildlife benefits. The seed is eaten by eight species of waterfowl and the twigs by three species of mammals. Waterfowl and shorebirds consume the seeds of common buttonbush. Buttonbush is important to wood ducks for brood rearing and hiding. White-tailed deer browse foliage in the northeastern United States.Wood ducks use the plant’s structure for protection of brooding nests.Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are attracted to common buttonbush for its nectar. Bees use it to produce honey.

Native range: Common buttonbush is native to North America. It occurs from Nova Scotia to Ontario, south through Florida, and west to the eastern Great Plains with scattered populations in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and northern Mexico.

Follow link: to see range map. PLANTS Profile for Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) | USDA PLANTS

Height: 18 feet (6 m)
Light needed: full sun or part shade

Hardiness zones: 4-10

Bloom period: June through September and sets fruit in September and October.

Bloom color: white to reddish
Growing Tips: Common buttonbush seeds are ready for collection in the fall when they have turned reddish-brown. No pretreatment is necessary. Sow seeds into moist, humus soils in full sun or part shade.

Buttonbush is best adapted to shorelines and swamps with saturated soil and full sunlight. It will tolerate water depths up to three feet. Flowering is poor in the shade or in dry soils.

Habitat: Common buttonbush is a wetland shrub common in swamps, floodplains, marshes, bogs, ditches that are underwater for part of the year, and alluvial plains with intermittent flooding. It is present in riparian and wetland communities and is associated with plants like American beech, red maple, sugar maple, black oak, pin oak, Nyssa species, bald cypress, southern bayberry, red bay, holly, dogberry, grape, viburnum, poison ivy, Indian grass, big bluestem, switchgrass, and sedges.

Description: Buttonbush is a large, multi-stemmed shrub that grows to a mature height of twelve feet. It has opposite, entire leaves 2-6 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. They are glabrous and green above. The flowers occur in dense, round, 1 inch diameter clusters which bloom from June to September. The seed matures in the round clusters that resemble those of the sycamore tree. This plant spreads by seed dispersal and resulting seedling establishment.

WARNING: Common buttonbush contains the poison CEPHALATHIN. Cephalathin will induce vomiting, paralysis, and convulsions if ingested.

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