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CEPHALANTHUS occidentalis

Image of Cephalanthus occidentalis

Grandiflora

Family

Rubiaceae

Botanical Name

CEPHALANTHUS occidentalis

Plant Common Name

Common Buttonbush

General Description

The American native shrub, common buttonbush, develops striking pincushion-like flower balls of ivory in summer and early fall. These are followed by attractive fruits and russet red autumn leaves. This rounded, deciduous shrub is native to much of eastern North America as well as Cuba and regions in Mexico. Wild specimens can be found growing in moist or wet soils around lakes, ponds and streams.

Buttonbush has shiny, medium green leaves that are oval to almost lance-like in shape. The leaf midrib is typically reddish, a sign of the pretty red fall color to come. In mid- to late-summer, its multi-stemmed branches display lots of fragrant, rounded flower clusters of ivory or light pink. Each tiny individual flower has a long floral tube filled with nectar that attracts butterflies and bees. Post pollination, plants yield many small round fruits that turn from green to brown. These are eaten by waterfowl as they drop.

Grow common buttonbush in full sun to partial shade and any moist, humus-rich soil. It is adapted to wet soils with neutral soil pH. If plants become wild and unkempt, their branches may be severely cut back, or hard pruned, in early spring to make them neater and bushier. This is an ideal native shrub to plant as a bank stabilizer around water bodies or in moist woodland glens. This is a salt tolerant species, so it is also ideal for moist, oceanside plantings. In the home garden it’s a great native for moist, low areas.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    5'-12' / 1.5m - 3.7m

  • Width

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Southwestern United States, California, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Poorly Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Pink, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Green, Dark Red, Sienna

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Foundation, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Water Gardens

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes