Close-up of the capitate inflorescence of buttonbush (scientific name: Cephalanthus occidentalis). It is a common North American shrub occurring in wet areas such as swamps, marshes, pond margins, and ditches. The ball-like inflorescence consists of numerous, tiny flowers with prominent, exserted styles. Plants in full flower are usually attended by a variety of nectar- and pollen-seeking insects and buttonbush is recommended for butterfly gardens. The plant is botanically interesting as a native, woody member of the coffee family (Rubiaceae) that is hardy as far north as parts of Canada. It is also noteworthy for its extensive north-south range and occurs from Canada south into Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. The pictured plant was photographed along the margin of a stormwater retention pond on the grounds of the headquarters of the South Florida Water Management District in Palm Beach County, Florida.
© 2009 Rufino Osorio. All rights reserved.