homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Cephalanthus occidentalis - L.
Common Name Button Bush, Common buttonbush, Button Willow, Honey Bells, Buttonbush
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards The leaves contain glucosides and can be toxic in large doses. Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, chronic spasms and muscular paralysis[274].
Habitats A lowland species, growing along the edges of streams, rivers, lakes, swamps and wet floodplains[229].
Range Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Minnesota and California
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Cephalanthus occidentalis Button Bush, Common buttonbush, Button Willow, Honey Bells, Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis Button Bush, Common buttonbush, Button Willow, Honey Bells, Buttonbush
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Cephalanthus occidentalis is a deciduous Shrub growing to 7 m (23ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower in August, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Febrifuge;  Laxative;  Odontalgic;  Ophthalmic;  

Button bush was often employed medicinally by native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a range of ailments[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. A tea made from the bark is astringent, emetic, febrifuge and tonic[61, 222]. A strong decoction has been used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, stomach complaints, haemorrhages etc[257]. It has been used as a wash for eye inflammations[222]. A decoction of either the roots or the fruits have been used as a laxative to treat constipation[257] The leaves are astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic[61, 222]. A tea has been used to check menstrual flow and to treat fevers, kidney stones, pleurisy etc[222]. The plant has a folk reputation for relieving malaria[222]. The inner bark has been chewed in the treatment of toothaches[222].
Other Uses

Wood - light, tough. Of no commercial value[229].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing. An easily grown plant[1], it prefers an open position in a moisture retentive or wet neutral to acid humus-rich soil[200]. Dislikes dryness at the roots[11]. A calcifuge plant, it dislikes alkaline soils[200]. Requires a sunny position[184]. Plants are hardy to about -25°c[184]. A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild[229]. The flowers, and the dried leaves, have a soft sweet fragrance like newly mown hay[245]. A good bee plant[149]. Plants are sometimes evergreen[200]. Special Features:North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - we have no details on this plant but would suggest sowing the seed as soon as it is ripe in an acid compost in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of soft or semi-ripe wood, July in a frame[200]. Layering.

Books by Plants For A Future

Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Due to a fault in the PDF printer we are trying a few different options. Please try the one below


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Cephalanthus occidentalis  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.