Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Cephalanthus occidentalis L.
RUBIACEAE (Madder Family)
EtymologyCephalanthus means flowering head, from the Greek: kephale = head + anthos = flower; occidentalis is Latin for Western or of the West.
Synonyms (Common Name)Pond Dogwood, Honey Ball, Pin Ball
DescriptionOften growing in shallow water, buttonbush is a deciduous, broad-leaved shrub of medium height (3-10' tall), but can reach heights of 20 feet. It has flaky gray-brown bark, round flowers that look like white pincushions, and round fruit that look like bumpy buttons.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Heightusually 3-10 feet; to 20 feet
LeavesDeciduous, opposite or in whorls of 3-4, simple, entire, 3-6" long; narrowly ovate to elliptical, sharply pointed tip; shiny green above, lighter below; on short, reddish stalks.
Flower/InflorescenceCreamy-white, small (3/16 -- 5/16"), tubular with 4 petals, protruding style; packed into dense, spherical flower heads 1-1 1/2" in diameter.
Flowering PeriodJune-August
FruitNutlet, small (3/16"), brown on spherical seed head that resembles a round ball or button, 1" in diameter.
Fruiting PeriodSeptember-December, sometimes persisting through the winter.
HabitatShrub swamps, margins of ponds and streams.
RangeNew Brunswick to Minnesota, south to Florida and Mexico.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett