Jul 22 2009

Summer’s Here: Button Bush

Published by at 7:21 am under Phenology,Plants

Button Bush (photo by Dianne Machesney)

Here's a plant worth going out of your way for:  Button Bush or Cephalanthus occidentalis.

Button Bush is shrub that grows in sunny, wet places.  It prefers to have its feet in or near water, so it's found in swamps, along ponds and in wet stream beds.

The flower ball is fascinating up close.  To me, it looks like a TV satellite but is actually many small flowers, each with a tall pistil that stands out far from the ball.  When you take a close look you'll notice another nice thing about the plant.  The flowers are very fragrant.

If you decide to look for Button Bush, check near ponds and rivers.   I found it pre-bloom next to the Youghiogeny River at Ohiopyle.  Dianne Machesney found this one at Independence Marsh in Beaver County.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Summer’s Here: Button Bush”

  1. Marcy Con 22 Jul 2009 at 11:13 am

    I have 4 plants of this in my yard and it’s another great attractor for butterflies and bugs…Last year there were Swallowtail butterflies all over it…I think they look like the little scoosh (sp?) balls you squeeze. Some of mine are getting bigger and should bloom in the next week or so…the ones that got frozen from the frost are a little later, but they are coming. Nice plant to have, but give it space and WET feet.

  2. Hollyon 23 Jul 2009 at 12:19 am

    I am going to find at least one of these as my backyard is frequently under a few inches of water and is never dry….always a little squishy.

  3. Mark Bon 23 Jul 2009 at 7:09 am

    Every time I see Buttonbush flowering I have to stop and at least look at it. I am not sure how many time I have photographed the flowers, but I am sure I have many.

    A very nice photo.

  4. Leslieon 23 Jul 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Is there any way to find out where Independence Marsh is?

  5. Kate St. Johnon 23 Jul 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Independence Marsh is off Rt 151 in Beaver County, 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
    A description plus a Google satellite view is here: http://wikimapia.org/7746540/Independence-Marsh
    Directions from Pittsburgh are here: http://www.3rbc.org/directions/independencemarsh.asp

    The marsh is located next to Raccoon Creek. The Beaver County Conservation District educational building is at Independence Marsh (address is 156 Cowpath Rd, Aliquippa, PA).

    Further info: When you come from Rt 60 on Rt 151 you will be traveling downhill. When you reach the “flats” you’re in the floodplain of Raccoon Creek. Cross Raccoon Creek on Rt 151 (the creek is marked with a blue sign) and make the first right turn onto Cowpath Rd. Make the next right turn onto a dirt road that has a gate at its entrance. Near the gate is a Beaver County Conservation District sign. Drive all the way down to the parking lot.

  6. Leslieon 23 Jul 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks, Kate! I tried to find it before but no luck. Seems to be a good place according to the PA bird list.

  7. Kate St. Johnon 30 Jul 2009 at 10:17 am

    As of Sunday 7/26, the button bush that’s right along the path at Independence Marsh was not in full bloom. Probably will be in a week.

  8. Mary Ann Pikeon 04 Sep 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I know this conversation is long past, but I was excited to find a buttonbush in Presque Isle State Park last weekend…there was only one flower left on the bush (the rest were past bloom). Very neat plant, first time we’ve ever seen one (my husband actually noticed it, I was looking at the wildflowers on the ground).

  9. Steward Dougon 11 Oct 2009 at 3:56 pm

    BUTTON BUSH was in bloom and reflected well in pictures taken along the shoreline of Sycamore Island. Many of these amazing flowers were covered with butterflies and so was the shoreline wet sandy areas. So many of the canoe and kayak trips thas past summer in the Allegheny River. Sycamore Island Is the treasure island of Blawnox Pa. No people are residents on the island there are only guests of Allegheny Land Trust.

  10. Laura Eiseneron 17 Jul 2013 at 8:41 am

    This is such an amazing plant in bloom! It is pretty common in New England but most people I talk to have never heard of it or seen it. If you plant it in your garden, it is great for cut flowers which are sure to be conversation-starters. My favorite flower arrangement with it was red roses from the supermarket that came with white baby’s breath, arranged in a low bowl with the buttonbush blossoms. Everyone assumed it was something exotic and expensive.

    Because Buttonbush doesn’t mind wet feet at all, it is pretty common along roadside ditches and rail trails.

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