Monday, June 6, 2011


A curiously flowered shrub, the buttonbush takes its name from the round button-like fruits. The flowers are described as looking like pincushions, puffballs, or ping-pong balls, and are about 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Buttonbush enjoys damp areas and thrives in swamps, marshes, and along water edges throughout most of the eastern United States. It ventures into the Midwest just past the Mississippi River and grows in selected moist pockets in Arizona and California.

The creamy white flower balls have a sweet scent and attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. The fruit ball is composed of small nutlets, which serve as a food source for ducks and other birds. The bushy growth provides cover for birds and other small animals. The leaves on this buttonbush are whorled in groups of three, but they also grow in opposite pairs. buttonbush is deciduous, which means that it drops its leaves in the fall or winter. The new growth on this shrub is tinged with red on the petioles (leaf stems) and the tips of the leaves.

Although considered inedible for humans and horses, deer are reported to enjoy the foliage and young twigs. Buttonbush leaves, bark, and roots had wide uses as a decoction, a gargle, and poultice and were used by Native Americans and European settlers to cure ailments from dysentery to toothache. However, the plant contains toxins that often had worse effects than the illness it treated, and eventually fell out of favor.
If you’d like to read more about buttonbush, please visit the following links:

Florida’s Nature

Teachers, students, and parents!
Please click here for a free downloadable PDF coloring page of a buttonbush.

You can also visit my Flickr photostream for more of my visual nature journal entries.

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Beautiful work, Elizabeth! I'll be on the look out for these plants the next time I'm out on a nature walk. I've seen them before but didn't know what they were!

  2. I don't recognize this plant, but like Laure I'll look for it the next time I'm out walking. I've probably been overlooking it all along!

  3. I stopped to admire the blooms of the button bush just this morning. Thank you for sharing the uses and background.

  4. Thank you for posting a PDF Coloring Page. It is so pretty.... I am going to use it when teaching this summer at a local nature preserve. :)

  5. Thanks, Laure! The flowers make them easy to recognize, otherwise, to many people they look just like another green bush. Luckily, they bloom most of the summer.

    You'll notice it next time, Kathy, that's what happens to me when I learn a new one -- I see it in places I never noticed before! Smell the flowers if possible, they have a sweet fragrance

    Thank you Anonymous#1 for your kind comment -- and thank YOU for visiting!

    You are welcome Anonymous #2! I learned a lot coloring pages like that when I was younger; now I get to make and color my own!

  6. Thank you so much for giving us the pleasure of enjoying your wonderful work! I also am a follower on flickr (SallySunshine2) and my husband and I are just in awe of your talent. :D

  7. Oh Delia, what a beautiful thing to say! Believe me, it gives me a lot of pleasure to draw, paint, and write, and then to share with awesome people who love nature. And since I've been drawing for over 50 years, I had a chance to develop the bit of talent I started out with. Thank you so much!

  8. Hi - I am definitely glad to find this. great job!

  9. ... a lovely piece of art. You tackled a difficult subject and did and great job on it.

  10. Your Florida journal is wonderful. I love that you are including weather info on your pages. I may shamelessly steal that idea from you! *wink*


  11. Thanks, Elva. It was more difficult than I realized at first, and I'm so happy it turned out at all!

    Thank you Tee! Please, use the idea, it's not mine. :) The part that IS mine is the way I illustrated it. Nature observers have recorded dates, times, and all sorts of things throughout time. I enjoy looking back to see what the weather was like and any other observations that I jotted down!