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Cephalanthus occidentalis

Button Bush /

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

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

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.

5-12 Feet


4-7 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 5-9

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.

Native Trivia

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.

"A favorite nectar plant for my hummingbird friends and me and my bird buddies love the seeds."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Shrubs
  • Filtered Shade
  • Sun
  • Saline or alkaline
  • Well-drained
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Moist
  • Moist but well-drained
  • Wet
Attracts Wildlife
  • Beneficial insects
  • Butterflies
  • Hummingbirds
  • Songbirds
Bloom Time
  • Summer
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
  • Songbird
  • Wet Sun
Native Habitat
  • Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
  • Green
  • Bog, water garden
  • Naturalizes
Native to
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin