Cephalanthus occidentalis, Common Buttonbush

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Historical Uses:

The Chickasaw Nation was reported to apply poultices of warmed roots to the head for eye troubles.

The Choctaw Nation was reported to make strong decoctions from the bark as a favored treatment for dysentery. Decoctions of bark were also used as a bath for sore eyes. Root bark and bark used as a fever treatment. Bark was also chewed for toothaches.

The Seminole Nation was reported to use decoctions of bark for headaches, decoctions of plant material as an antidiarrheal, and decoctions of roots or berries for nausea, constipation, and blocked urination.


C. occidentalis is one of our personal favorite plants. While normally found along lake shores, swampy areas, and river banks, once mature, C. occidentalis doesn’t require a consistently wet area. They do prefer wet environments until they mature, however. The blooms are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, and beetles. C. occidentalis could also make a great living privacy fence as if they’re happy, they can reach 10ft tall and 6ft wide. They are incredibly easy to grow and we can’t recommend them enough!

In some areas, they are being implemented to combat erosion. They are quite tolerant to saltwater so places battling saltwater intrusion, like Florida, are finidng some success with Buttonbush!


  • Listing ID: 1110
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Soil Moisture: 1-5 (dry to wet): 3-5
  • Stratification: No stratification required
  • Bloom Time: June-July
  • Family: Rubbiaceae (Madder)
  • Sunlight Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Latin Name: Cephalantus occidentalis
  • Common Name: Buttonbush
  • Eco-Region: 251, 255