Cephalanthus occidentalis L.
Common buttonbush, Buttonbush, Button willow
Rubiaceae (Madder Family)
Synonym(s): Cephalanthus occidentalis var. californicus, Cephalanthus occidentalis var. pubescens
USDA Symbol: CEOC2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Common buttonbush is a multi-stemmed shrub which grows 6-12 ft. or occasionally taller. Leaves in pairs or in threes, petiolate; blade up to 8 inches long, ovate to narrower, sometimes 1/3 or less as wide as long, with a pointed tip and rounded to tapered base, smooth margins and glossy upper surface, lower surface duller. Glossy, dark-green leaves lack significant fall color. Flowers small, borne in distinctive, dense, spherical clusters (heads) with a fringe of pistils protruded beyond the white corollas. Long-lasting, unusual blossoms are white or pale-pink, one-inch globes. Subsequent rounded masses of nutlets persist through the winter. Trunks are often twisted. Spreading, much-branched shrub or sometimes small tree with many branches (often crooked and leaning), irregular crown, balls of white flowers resembling pincushions, and buttonlike balls of fruit.
Buttonbush is a handsome ornamental suited to wet soils and is also a honey plant. Ducks and other water birds and shorebirds consume the seeds.
Habitat from Plant Index - In swamps, around ponds and margins of streams throughout the state. Sand, loam, clay, limestone; moist, poor drainage or standing water okay. Prairie swales; lake, marsh, creek & swamp margins; dry, limestone bluffs