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Common Buttonbush

Common Buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis
(Order Rubiales; Family Rubiaceae)

Cephalanthus occidentalis. Photos by Erica Kuhlman, July 2011

Diagnosis: The Common Buttonbush is a multi-stemmed shrub that can reach a maximinum height of twelve feet. The flowers are white, one-inch clusters that are round and dense. The leaves are opposite and ovate-oblong, about one to three inches wide, and about two to six inches long.

Flowering Period: From June to September

Habitat: Wetlands. This species is adapted to swamps and shorelines with lots of sunlight and saturated soil.

Conservation Status: Not threatened.

Native Status: Native to the United States and Canada.


Distribution of Cephalanthus occidentalis in the United States. From the USDA Plant Database:

Human Use: Used in wetland restoration

Visitors: Butterflies and Bees.

Island Creek Elementary School:

Native Plant Database:

McCarron, James K., McLeod, Kenneth W., & Conner, William H. (1998). Flood and salinity stress of wetland woody species, buttonbush (cephalanthus occidentalis) and swamp tupelo (nyssa sylvatica var.biflora) . Wetlands, 18(2), 165-175.

McLeod, Kenneth W., Donovan, Lisa A., Stumpff, Nancy J., & Sherrod, K.C. (1986). Biomass, photosynthesis and water use efficiency of woody swamp species subjected to flooding and elevated water temperature. Tree Physiology, 2, 341-346.

Needham, J.G. Button-Bush Insects. Psyche, February 1903.

Image Credits:
Cephalanthus occidentalis. Photos by Erica Kuhlman, July 2011.

United States Distribution Map from the USDA Plant Database.

Submitted by: Erica Kuhlman, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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