Common buttonbush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Landscape Uses:

Accent or specimen shrub in wet or mucky soils.

Ecological Restoration Notes:

A common element of swamps and wet thickets.
Native plant nurseries.
Large shrub or small tree with a spreading or irregularly rounded crown, with heavy mostly upright branches. Trunks 3-6 inches in diameter, rarely larger in South Florida, straight or crooked, usually branching close to the ground. Bark thick, red-brown to dark brown, rough. Leaves smooth and thin, 2-7 inches long. A temperate semi-deciduous species in South Florida, losing most or all of its leaves during cold periods.
Typically 10-20 feet in height in South Florida; to 27 feet in Florida. Often broader than tall.
Growth Rate:
Fast to moderate.
Widespread in eastern and southern North America west to Texas and California and south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland; Cuba, Mexico and Central America. For a digitized image of Elbert Little's Florida range map, visit the Exploring Florida website.
Swamps and wet thickets.
Wet to moist, poorly-drained to well-drained, usually organic soils.
Nutritional Requirements:
High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.
Drought Tolerance:
Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.
Light Requirements:
Full sun to light shade.
Flower Color:
Creamy white or yellow.
Flower Characteristics:
Tiny tubular flowers in showy dense globular heads, 1 to 1 1/2" in diamter, emerging from the ends of new growth. Fragrant and nectar bearing.
Flowering Season:
Nutlet, green to dark brown, 3/4" in diameter.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Provides significant food and cover for wildlife. Nectar plant for clouded skipper (Lerema accius), Deleware skipper (Anatrytone logan), Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius), ocola skipper (Panoquina ocola) and sachem (Atalopedes campestris) butterflies. Attracts bees, beetles, and fly pollinators. Deer browse the leaves and young twigs. Ducks feed on the seeds. Provides excellent cover and nesting for birds.
Horticultural Notes:
Can be grown from seed and cuttings. Sow seeds as soon as mature.
An excellent shrub for wet spots in the garden. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Flower Friday page.

James Johnson, 2014
In habitat, Everglades National Park, Florida
Roger L. Hammer
Keith A. Bradley
Shirley Denton
Shirley Denton
Keith A. Bradley