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Cephalanthus occidentalis

Pronunciation: Seff-uh-lanth-us ock-sid-en-tay-liss
Family: Rubiaceae (madder family)
Common Name: Buttonbush, honey bells, button willow
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 20'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The tiny flowers are creamy white and borne in dense spherical heads a little more than 1 in (2. 5 cm) in diameter. The pincusionlike flower balls stand on 2 in (5. 1 cm) stalks in clusters arising from stem tips and from leaf axils. They are sweetly fragrant and produced over a long period in late spring and summer. The flowers give way to little reddish brown nutlets which give the hanging balls a rough texture. The fruit balls may persist on the tree through the winter. Botanists recognize several naturally occurring varieties.
Soil Type: Buttonbush does best with moist soil and it cannot tolerate drought.
Toxic:
  • Yes
Plant Perks:
  • Cut Flower
  • Attracts Hummingbirds
  • Attracts Butterflies
Propagation: Buttonbush can be grown from seeds sown in spring. The seeds germinate quickly without any pretreatment. It also is easily started from semi-ripe tip cuttings in spring or hardwood cuttings in winter, inserted in moist sand or potting medium.
Native to: Buttonbush occurs in swamps and marshes, and along streams and ponds, from nova scotia south throughout florida and the west indies, west to minnesota, texas, and mexico, and scattered across the southwestern us to central california. It typically grows in places that have standing water part of the year, and sometimes forms pure, very dense stands. There are a half dozen or so other species of cephalanthus occurring in asia and africa; buttonbush is the only species native to the new world.
Winter Sowing Zones: Zone 5-8
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - buttonbush is a wetland plant, but it can be grown in ordinary soils in a shrub border or naturalized landscape if given supplemental water during dry spells. Buttonbush is at its best, though, along a pond or stream, or in an area where the soil is frequently wet. It does best with moisture retentive soils and it tolerates soggy soils. Buttonbush responds well to pruning and can be kept at a small size. The choctaw and seminole peoples used decoctions of buttonbush bark for treating several internal maladies including diarrhea and stomach aches.
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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