Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Button Bush
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Rubiaceae

Wood – light, tough. Of no commercial value[229].

  • Medicinal Use

    Button bush was often employed medicinally by native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a range of ailments[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism.

    A tea made from the bark is astringent, emetic, febrifuge and tonic[61, 222]. A strong decoction has been used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, stomach complaints, haemorrhages etc[257]. It has been used as a wash for eye inflammations[222].

    A decoction of either the roots or the fruits have been used as a laxative to treat constipation[257]

    The leaves are astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic[61, 222]. A tea has been used to check menstrual flow and to treat fevers, kidney stones, pleurisy etc[222]. The plant has a folk reputation for relieving malaria[222].

    The inner bark has been chewed in the treatment of toothaches[222].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    The leaves contain glucosides and can be toxic in large doses. Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, chronic spasms and muscular paralysis[274].

Cultivation & Habitat

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[200]. Layering.
An easily grown plant[1], it prefers an open position in a moisture retentive or wet neutral to acid humus-rich soil[200]. Dislikes dryness at the roots[11]. A calcifuge plant, it dislikes alkaline soils[200]. Requires a sunny position[184]. Plants are hardy to about -25¡c[184]. A fast-growing but short-lived species in the wild[229]. The flowers, and the dried leaves, have a soft sweet fragrance like newly mown hay[245]. A good bee plant[149]. Plants are sometimes evergreen[200].
Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Florida, west to Minnesota and California

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.