buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Rubiaceae, the madder family

How to recognize buttonbush. This is an aquatic shrub (one of our few woody plants that grow in persistently wet places) with simple, untoothed leaves that are opposite or whorled.


Buttonbush has an rare leaf arrangement–they’re whorled!

Buttonbush is one of the few woody plants with whorled leaves.

Flowers. Buttonbush flowers are creamy white and individually small, but packed together in striking ball-shaped clusters 2-3 cm in diameter.

Buttonbush flowers are arranged in compact heads.

Where to find buttonbush. E. Lucy Braun, in The Woody Plants of Ohio (1961, 1989; The Ohio State University Press) tell us that that butonbush is “Very wide-ranging, throughout the eastern half of the United States, extending westward across the prairies in sloughs, and in the southwestern states and Mexico; reaching its largest size (occasionally 12-16 m.) in river-bottom swamps of southern Arkansas and eastern Texas. In Ohio, usually 1.5-2 (-3) m. in height.”

Scanned Image from an Old Book
(Flora of West Virginia, by P.D. Strausbaugh and Earl L. Core)


Ooh ooh. I have a question!

Why does buttonbush have anger management issues? Haha? Seriously, explain what family it is in, and why it’s called what it’s called.

Privet is a member of the madder family (Rubiaceae), a large family that includes a dye plant called madder. 

<-return to main species list (link)
<-return to Stratford