Cephalanthus occidentalis
Button Bush

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Butterfly FriendlyDeer ResistantRain GardenPart ShadeBird Friendly
Button Bush
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Hundreds of tiny, tubular creamy white flowers are packed into large showy flower heads, which dangle from the bush in August. Butterflies and other insects find the nectar irresistible. The fragrant flower heads mature into round fruits each containing hundreds of nutlike seeds that are eaten by waterfowl and other birds such as quail. Many birds use this deciduous shrub as a nesting site.

Tremendous source of nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators
Waterfowl and other birds relish the seed
Provides protective cover for all kinds of birds
Adapts to many soil types, except dry ones
Thrives in bogs and very wet conditions

Native Range

Swamps and streamsides, even in shallow water; Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to southern Quebec and eastern Minnesota, along the Mississippi to Texas, Mexico and Florida.

Interesting Facts

While hummingbirds visit buttonbush for nectar, they also visit for the protein. Hummers need nectar for energy but they also need protein to build muscles. They get protein by eating insects. The tongue of a hummingbird has grooves on the side, which help them catch insects in the air.


Easy to grow in moist, organically rich soils in full sun to part shade. Grows well in wet soil, including seasonal flood conditions and shallow standing water. Adapts to a wide range of soils except dry ones. Pruning is usually not necessary, but may be done in early spring to shape. If plants ever need to be revitalized, they may be cut back near the ground in early spring.

Mature Size: 5-12ft. Tall x 4-7ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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