By Nita Schiro, Master Gardener
In defiance of its name, the Common Buttonbush Tree, (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is not common looking at all. In fact, quite the opposite – it is a sturdy but small tree or shrub with curved and twisted multiple branches, plus dainty globes which resemble white pincushions. This tree really does have it all! You may have walked past one in the woods and didn’t notice the spherically shaped globes hanging like ornaments from the limbs. I know I have been guilty of this.
This tree is happy when close to a pond or stream, or planted in a swampy, moist area. Recently while hiking in Jones State Forest in Conroe I noticed several of them growing near a low spot on the side of the trail. They can grow to 6 feet if left alone, or you can prune them if you prefer a smaller version. They do like shade, to part-sun to thrive.
Plant a Common Buttonbush in your yard and the wildlife will be happy too. Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies use the flowers as a nectar source. Reddish-brown fruit follows the flowers and persists through the winter. Waterbirds eat buttonbush seeds.
Another benefit is that the leaves are unpalatable to deer and livestock, so the shiny green leaves will remain until winter.
You can find this plant at the upcoming Montgomery County Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale on October 13th. The pre-program starts at 8 am, with the sale from 9 am – 12 Noon. Location is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 9020 Airport Road in Conroe. Visit our website at www.mcmga.com for details. You can also call 936-539-7824 for more information.
Come out early for the best selection of our plants, and if you have questions during the sale, just look for a Master Gardener wearing a blue shirt. Don’t forget to bring a wagon.