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Plants of the UNF Campus

Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush
Family Rubiaceae


About six species of Cephalanthus are native to the Americas. The buttonbush is a large, open shrub to about ten feet tall. It is native to much of the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and Cuba. In the wild, it is found moist situations like swamps or stream sides. In spring, it bears spherical clusters of white flowers that are about 1.5 inches across. Native Americans and early settlers used this plant to treat a wide variety of ailments. Today, it is known to contain potentially fatal compounds. It is a good plant for a wildlife garden. Butterflies visit the flowers, water birds eat the seeds, and deer browse the twigs.


Plants can be found along the nature trails at Lake Oneida.


A large shrub to about ten feet tall.

Care Instructions:

Light: full sun to part shade (sun is best)

Water: requires consistent moisture

Soil: no special requirements provided the soil is moist

This is a large, coarse shrub, possibly best suited for the natural garden. Buttonbush is native to northeast Florida and is easy to grow in the right sight. A sunny exposure and moist soil are the keys to its success in the landscape.