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Cephalanthus occidentalis

common buttonbush add to wishlist

Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Deciduous

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium, high

Soil Moisture: moist, wet

Soil Description: acid, neutral, alkaline, rich, average, poor, loam, clay, sand

Height: 6'-12'

Bloom Time: June, July, August, September

Bloom Color: white, pink

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Additional Tags: attracts bees, attracts butterflies, bog plant, fragrant flowers, medicinal, pond margin plant, salt tolerant, showy fruit, stream margin plant, swamp plant, water garden plant

Flower of Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)
  • Flower of Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)
  • Flower of Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)
  • Flower of Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

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Description

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Also known as:

common buttonbush

,

button ball

,

button willow

,

buttonbush

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Cephalanthus occidentalis is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub growing 6 to 12 feet tall. It can occasionally grow to 20 feet and may also be considered a small tree. The glossy, green leaves are lance-shaped and up to 6" long. The flowers are its most striking feature. They form dense, whitish, ping pong-like clusters up to 2" in diameter. Extending white styles give them a unusual, pincushion-like appearance. Blooms are fragrant and long lasting. These give way to ball-like fruit that persist well into winter.

Cultivation

Common buttonbush is a shrub native to wetland environments, swamps, floodplains, marshes and bogs. It can thrive under permanent inundation of up to 12" of water. It does well under dryer conditions, so long as the soil is not allowed to dry out for extended periods of time. Shrubs may be pruned in early spring to maintain a compact form. They may also be cut back hard, close to the ground to revitalize. It will tolerate shade conditions but blooms best with more sun. Blooms are long lasting and may appear as early as June and persist as late as September, depending on geographic location. Zones 4-10

Propagation

Propagate from seed. No pretreatment necessary.

Additional Notes

Due to its ability to grow in standing water, and its tolerance of salt, Cephalanthus occidentalis is ideal for wetland restoration and shoreline erosion control. The flowers will attract bees and butterflies. The seeds are sought after by a variety of birds and waterfowl. The bark and roots have been used in traditional medicine to relieve a host of ailments, ranging from toothaches, to rheumatism, diarrhea and muscle inflammation.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Rubiales
Family Rubiaceae Madder family
Genus Cephalanthus buttonbush
Species Cephalanthus occidentalis common buttonbush