Cephalanthus occidentalis L.

Buttonbush, Button-willow, Honeybells




Family: Rubiaceae

Genus: Cephalanthus

Category: Shrub - Deciduous

Zones: 5 to 11

Size: To 10' tall and 8' wide

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade


Evergreen in the southernmost zones, leaves are opposite or whorled, 2 to 6" long, bright green above, lighter below, emerging late in spring. White flowers in summer attract butterflies. Hard, spherical, ball-like fruits persist through winter. Likes uniformly wet soil but will tolerate all except dry conditions.



Published in Sp. Pl. 1: 95 in 1753.

Native to much of the US, Canada and Mexico.

Introduced in 1735.

My Experience: 

I saw the plant at the JC Raulston Arboretum and was enamored of the flowers. Dirr says some work is being done on cultivars so I think this may be a 'wait and see'. I would prefer a smaller cultivar!

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner