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Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cephalanthus occidentalis L.

Cephalanthus occidentalis L. var. californicus Benth.

Cephalanthus occidentalis L. var. pubescens Raf.

Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyRubiaceaeCoffee, madder, and bedstraw family
GenusCephalanthusFrom the Greek kephale, “head,” and anthos, “flower,” the flowers are borne in compact rounded heads like those of a chrysanthemum or dahlia
SpeciesoccidentalisFrom the west, western

About plant names...

This plant’s cool-looking flowers fascinate me, and make for easy identification. Buttonbush is a North American native. It is found in wet areas such as lakeshores and habitats that are at least sometimes flooded, including swamps, river edges, and the Everglades.

Plants: This deciduous shrub is 3-9½' (1-3 m) high, rarely reaching 20' (6 m). with many dense branches.

Leaves: Glossy, dark green, opposite or in groups of three, and up to 8" (20 cm) long. Flowers begin life as bumpy light green balls about ¾" (2 cm) in diameter.

Flowers: Buttonbush flowers look so unusual at every stage of development, and are visible during so much of the summer, that this alone is usually enough to identify the plant. Minute horn-shaped white or pale yellow flowers cover the surface, extending tiny sepal-bearing pistils. The flowerheads look like perfectly spherical softly bristled cream-colored balls up to 1¼" (3.5 cm) around, each on a long stem (petiole).

Fruits: As the flowers age, they form hard brown seed balls—clusters of achenes—that look like bumpy brown cherries.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones This shrub is poisonous to livestock.

Online References:

Cephalanthus occidentalis on Carolina Nature, from Will Cook

Cephalanthus occidentalis at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Cephalanthus occidentalis at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Cephalanthus occidentalis at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Cephalanthus occidentalis on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Cephalanthus occidentalis on Wikipedia

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/11/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 4" (13 × 11 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/11/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (12 × 9.4 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

4/14/2015 · Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, FL
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

This flower is past its prime. · 7/30/2017 · Jason”s Cutoff and Nearby Trails, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH
≈ 4 × 3" (10 × 7.8 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/9/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/3/2012 · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 3 Jul 2017.

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Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/27/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 11 × 9" (28 × 23 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

9/11/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 2½ × 2½" (6.5 × 6.4 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

4/11/2015 · Big Cypress Bend, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, FL
≈ 12 × 10" (30 × 25 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

8/30/2010 · Old RR bed near Wilkins Farm, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

10/23/2010
≈ 24 × 19" (61 × 48 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

4/11/2015 · Big Cypress Bend, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, FL
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 16 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

4/11/2015 · Big Cypress Bend, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, FL
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 16 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honey-bells)

7/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Range:

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