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Common Name: Button Bush
Cephalanthus occidentalis is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 7.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
The leaves contain glucosides and can be toxic in large doses. Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, chronic spasms and muscular paralysis[
Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Minnesota and California
A lowland species, growing along the edges of streams, rivers, lakes, swamps and wet floodplains[
An easily grown plant[
], it prefers an open position in a moisture retentive or wet neutral to acid humus-rich soil[
]. Dislikes dryness at the roots[
]. A calcifuge plant, it dislikes alkaline soils[
]. Requires a sunny position[
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[
A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild[
The flowers, and the dried leaves, have a soft sweet fragrance like newly mown hay[
A good bee plant[
Plants are sometimes evergreen[
Button bush was often employed medicinally by native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a range of ailments[
]. It is little used in modern herbalism.
A tea made from the bark is astringent, emetic, febrifuge and tonic[
]. A strong decoction has been used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, stomach complaints, haemorrhages etc[
]. It has been used as a wash for eye inflammations[
A decoction of either the roots or the fruits have been used as a laxative to treat constipation[
The leaves are astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic[
]. A tea has been used to check menstrual flow and to treat fevers, kidney stones, pleurisy etc[
]. The plant has a folk reputation for relieving malaria[
The inner bark has been chewed in the treatment of toothaches[
Wood - light, tough. Of no commercial value[
Seed - we have no details on this plant but would suggest sowing the seed as soon as it is ripe in an acid compost in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of soft or semi-ripe wood, July in a frame[