Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Plant Profile: Buttonbush
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), commonly named, I assume, for the fastener-like apperance of the spherical flowers/seedheads, is simultaneously blooming and going to seed.  The flowers started blooming in June, but are still going!  They are white, tiny and four-petaled with rather showy sexual parts that stick out like pincushions and are attractive to a variety of insects and hummingbirds.  There are almost always bumble bees hovering around them.  The nutlets that will eventually form are also a food source for a variety of animals, especially birds and waterfoul.  Birds also love to nest in the dense shrub, which is well-camouflaged by the leaves.  The seed clusters change from green to red to brown as they ripen, are around through the winter, making this a plant that has aesthetic appeal throughout the year.  
Buttonbush grows throughout the eastern part of the country, though we're nearing the northern part of its range.  It prefers wetter areas -- by ponds and wetlands -- and won't flower if the soil is too dry or the conditions too shady.  

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