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Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush, Button willow, Honey balls)

Cephalanthus occidentalis Photo/Illustration: Bill Johnson


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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Botanical Name: Cephalanthus occidentalis sef-ah-LAN-thus oks-ee-den-TAL-is Common Name: Buttonbush, Button willow, Honey balls Genus: Cephalanthus
A native small tree found in wetlands from Minnesota to Florida and from New England to California, buttonbush can reach 8 to 15 feet tall and is often wider than it is tall. Prune it into a small multi-trunked tree to reveal the curly bark of its young stems and the punctuated pale spots of its older stems. Blooms are extremely rich in nectar and attract butterflies and other insects.
Noteworthy characteristics: Midsummer blooms look like fuzzy white balls arranged in clusters at the end of each twig. Flowers mature to spherical fruit that turns golden brown in autumn, persisting into winter and attracting wildlife. Slow to leaf out in spring, foliage is a rich glossy green, with red veins and red midribs beneath, and bronze, burgundy, or yellow tones in autumn.
Care: Grow in fertile, rich, moist, neutral to acidic soil, in full sun. Tolerates clay soil.
Propagation: From seed, or take semi-ripe cuttings in summer, or hardwood cuttings in winter.
Problems: Infrequent.
Height 10 ft. to 15 ft.
Spread 15 ft. to 30 ft.
Light Full Sun Only
Moisture Medium to Wet
Maintenance Moderate
Characteristics Attracts Butterflies; Interesting Bark; Native; Showy Flowers
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color White Flower
Uses Beds and Borders, Flowering Tree, Waterside
Seasonal Interest Winter Interest, Summer Interest, Fall Interest
Type Shrubs

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