Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
|Photo by Stacey Matrazzo|
Buttonbush is a large wetland shrub that produces many globular, white flowers with protruding pistils that cause it to look like a pincushion. The fragrant flowers are about 2 inches in diameter and attract a number of bees and butterflies. Buttonbush’s leaves are dark green and shiny on top, although pale underneath. They are arranged in opposite pairs or in whorls. In the fall, buttonbush produces hard, reddish-brown nutlets that are eaten by some water fowl.
The genus Cephalanthus comes from the Greek words for "head" (cephale) and "flower"(authos).
Family: Rubiaceae (Madder Family)
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 7–11)
Soil: Requires wet soil; roots can withstand full submersion
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 5-20 feet tall
Garden tips: Buttonbush is a great addition to pond and lake edges and wetland depressions. It can sometimes appear ragged, but can be pruned to encourage denser foliage. Note that it does have a tendency to colonize if not maintained.
For more information on how to incorporate buttonbush into your landscape, check out Florida’s Best Native Landscape Plants by Gil Nelson, University Press of Florida. Purchase online at http://www.flawildflowers.org/learn.php.
To see where buttonbush occurs naturally, visit http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3610