Common buttonbush is a spreading, multi-branched shrub or sometimes small tree with many branches (often crooked and leaning), irregular crowns, balls of white flowers resembling pincushions, and buttonlike balls of fruit. Buttonbush is a handsome ornamental suited to wet soils and a honey plant. Ducks and other water birds, and shorebirds consume the seeds.
Genus's name comes from the Greek words kephale meaning "head," and anthos, meaning "flower."
Buttonbush is a somewhat coarse, deciduous shrub with an open-rounded habit that typically grows 6-12' (infrequently to 20') tall. It is common throughout Texas, most frequently occurring in wet open areas, low woods, thickets, swamps, upland sink-hole ponds, river bottomland, and stream/pond margins (Steyermark). Tiny, tubular, 5-lobed, fragrant white flowers appear in dense, spherical, long-stalked flower heads (to 1.5" diameter) early to mid-summer. Long, projecting styles give the flower heads a distinctively pincushion-like appearance. Flower heads are beautiful to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insect pollinators. Flower heads mature into hard spherical ball-like fruits with multiple tiny two-seeded nutlets. Fruiting heads usually persist throughout the winter. Ovate to elliptic glossy bright green leaves (6" long) are in pairs or whorls. Leaves emerge late in spring.
Light: Full sun, Part Sun
Water: Medium to wet
Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: Texas, Midwest