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Cephalanthus occidentalis
C. o. var. occidentalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Cephalanthus
Species: C. occidentalis
Binomial name
Cephalanthus occidentalis
L., 1753[1]

C. o. var. californicus
C. o. var. occidentalis

Cephalanthus occidentalis is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, that is native to eastern and southern North America. Common names include Buttonbush, Common Buttonbush, Button-willow and Honey-bells.



C. occidentalis is a deciduous shrub or small tree that averages 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) in height, but can reach 6 m (20 ft). The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three, elliptic to ovate, 7–18 cm (2.8–7.1 in) long and 4–10 m (13–33 ft) broad, with a smooth edge and a short petiole. The flowers are arranged in a dense spherical inflorescence 2–3.5 cm (0.79–1.4 in) in diameter on a short peduncle. Each flower has a fused white to pale yellow four-lobed corolla forming a long slender tube connecting to the sepals. The stigma protrudes slightly from the corolla. The fruit is a spherical cluster of achenes (nutlets).[2]


There are two varieties, not considered distinct by all authorities:


Buttonbush is a common shrub of many wetland habitats in its range, including swamps, floodplains, mangrove, pocosin, riparian zones, and moist forest understory.[3] It is a member of the flora in the Everglades.[3]


Waterfowl and other birds eat the seeds. Wood Ducks utilize the plant as nest protection. Deer browse the foliage. Insects and hummingbirds take the nectar, with bees using it to make honey.[3][4]


C. occidentalis has a number of historical medicinal uses, but it is also toxic due to the presence of cephalathin.[4][3] It is cultivated as an ornamental and to help control erosion.[5]


  1. ^ "Cephalanthus occidentalis L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1994-08-23. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Cephalanthus occidentalis L. buttonbush" (PDF). Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions. United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Cephalanthus occidentalis". Fire Effects Information System. United States Forest Service. 
  4. ^ a b "Common Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis L." (PDF). Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Guide. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  5. ^ O'Sullivan, Penelope (2007). The Homeowner's Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook: The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting, and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants. Storey Publishing. p. 197. ISBN 9781580175715. 

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Cephalanthus occidentalis


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids I
Ordo: Gentianales
Familia: Rubiaceae
Subfamilia: Cinchonoideae
Tribus: Cephalantheae
Genus: Cephalanthus
Species: Cephalanthus occidentalis


Cephalanthus occidentalis L.


  • Species Plantarum 1:95. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Cephalanthus occidentalis on Wikimedia Commons.


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