The common buttonbush is commonly a
profusely branched shrub but it can reach arborescent size, 25-35 feet
in height, 4-8 inches in diameter. It is named for its attractive
button-like flowers when present.
Leaves are simple, opposite or whorled,
and deciduous. The leaves are 4-7 inches long, 2-3.5 inches wide,
oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute apex. Leaf bases
are rounded or wedge-shaped. Leaf margins are entire. Leaf
surfaces are dark green above, paler below, with pubescence along the principal
veins. Petioles are grooved, about 3/4 inch long.
The flowers are perfect, fragrant, in spherical heads, 1-1.5 inch in diameter. Heads are on stalks, 1-2 inches long.
Fruit is a spheroid cluster of dark reddish-brown achenes, about 3/4 inch in diameter.
The twigs are slender to moderately
stout, dark reddish-brown, glossy or often covered with a waxy layer during
the first winter. The pith is homogeneous.
The bark is thin, gray-brown, and smooth
on young stems, becoming dark brown to deep purplish-brown, with fissures
between flattened, scaly ridges.
The common buttonbush inhabits low
ground. It is most abundant in swamps and along streams and pond
margins. It is shrubby throughout much of its range, forming nearly
impenetrable thickets in some places. It is found in the eastern
United States from the coastal plains to the midwestern plains states;
also through the Southwestern U.S. to California and Mexico.
This tree is occasionally used as an
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