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Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis
Family: Rubiaceae

View Video

Flowers from June to August

Description

Buttonbush usually grows to about 6 feet or less, although it can grow up to about 15 feet. The glossy leaves of this plant are opposite (sometimes whorled), and ovate to elliptical (3-5 inches long and 1-3 inches wide).

Most of the year this plant looks like a normal, nondescript bush. But, starting in June it produces large fuzzy white puffballs (the flowers with are about 1 inch in diameter). These flowers then become red to brown seed-heads that stay on the plant till October.

Interesting facts

Buttonbush is native to the new world, but can be considered a weedy species because of its growth characteristics in certain habitats. It also has poisonous foliage which is unpalatable to livestock. Many people have also used buttonbush as a medicinal.

Medicinal uses

The bark of this plant is bitter and has been used in certain home remedies, although the medicinal value of this plant is questionable. In any case the Mesqwaki people have used a mixture made from the inner bark as an emetic (a medicine that induces nausea or vomiting). Later, the first European settlers used the bark as a substitute for quinine to treat malaria, a disease that was common around the wet habitats in which this plant grows. Dr. Quinn reports that Native Americans use the bark as an eye wash for inflammations, to stop bleeding, treatment for kidney stones, and relieving some of the effects of malaria.

{Information here is for reference only, do not use buttonbush without first consulting other texts}


VIDEO


Links to more information

  1. General Info - Species description from Floridata.com

  2. General info with pictures from the Kemper center for home gardening.

  3. Detailed info - From the Fire Effects Information System, this a governmental report on just about all there is to know about Buttonbush. It is a bit hard to read at times and a bit dry with no pictures, but a good source of info for research as there are lots of references to other texts.


Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers

 

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