The Madder Family
    The madder family consists of about 350 genera and nearly 6,000 species of plants.  Probably the best known species of this family is the coffee plant.  Four genera are represented in the forests of the southeastern U.S.  One of these plants, the common buttonbush, is a common, sometimes arborescent, representative in Florida.

 Click on the links below for an introduction to a plant of this family:
Rubiaceae Family
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Cephalanthus occidentalis
common buttonbush


    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 ornamental.

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
Query the USDA Plant Database

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