Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Copyright, Elanor Saulys, Connecticut Botanical Society

Buttonbush is an easy-to-recognize bush that grows in water or moist soil. It is easy to identify because of its flowers and fruits. They are usually seen in marshes, and bordering streams, ponds, and lakes. They also grow in wet woods, thickets, and ditches.

This bush can grow up to 15 feet tall, but is usually much shorter (few feet). Its leaves are usually between three and six inches long, and are shiny, dark green and pointed.

Buttonbush flowers are clustered in white "balls," about 1 1/2 inches wide (ping-pong ball size). When the flowers disappear, they leave brown, ball-like fruits filled with seeds. Buttonbush blooms from June to August; fruits stay on the plant from September to October.

Kemper Center for Home Gardening

Buttonbush seeds are eaten by ducks, geese, and shorebirds. White-tailed Deer munch on leaves and twigs. Bees and butterflies visit flowers for nectar, and help pollinate them.

Wood Ducks often roost in Buttonbushes, and many songbirds build nests in them. Other small animals, such as frogs, salamanders, and insects use Buttonbush as cover.

Kenneth J. Sytsma - Wisconsin State Herbarium

Asa Thoresen - Wisconsin State Herbarium

Some other plants often found growing with Buttonbush include: Red Maple, Black Cherry, American Elm, Sassafras, Sweetgum, Yellow Poplar, Black Willow, American Sycamore, Black Oak, Willow Oak, American Beech, Sugar Maple, American Holly, Viburnum, Poison Ivy, Switchgrass, and sedges.

Because it likes water, Buttonbush does very well in flood conditions.

The leaves of Buttonbush turn yellow in the Fall before dropping off.

Hugh D. Wilson

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Honey Bee

Wood Duck

Red Maple

Honey Bee Po

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Northern Cardinal

Tussock Sedge

Golden Northern Bumble Bee Po

Painted Lady

Gray Catbird

Black Willow

Painted Lady Po

Cabbage White

Southern Leopard Frog

Black Cherry

Cabbage White Po

Clouded Sulphur

Green Darner

Sassafras

Clouded Sulphur Po

Mallard

Ebony Jewelwing

American Elm

Wood Duck

Northern Water Snake

Black Oak

Canada Goose

Muskrat

American Holly

White-tailed Deer

Meadow Vole

Poison Ivy

Bald-faced Hornet

Common Snapping Turtle

Switchgrass

Eastern Black Swallowtail

Bullfrog

American Sycamore

Monarch

Large Diving Beetle

Yellow Poplar

Eastern Dobsonfly

Sweetgum

White-footed Mouse

American Beech

Three-lined Salamander

Willow Oak

CommonWater Strider

Sugar Maple

Common Whitetail

Swamp Rose Mallow

Common Yellowthroat

River Birch

Eastern Mosquitofish

Northern Caddis Fly

Relationship to Humans:

Buttonbush is a good plant to have near streamsides and pond shores, since it helps control erosion and can handle floods. Many people grow them for the beauty of their flowers, and because they attract wildlife.

This plant is poisonous to humans.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Magnoliopsida
ORDER
Rubiales
FAMILY
Rubiaceae
GENUS
Cephalanthus
SPECIES
Cephalanthus occidentalis

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