Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Cephalanthus occidentalis


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Snyder, S. A. 1991. Cephalanthus occidentalis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : CEPOCC SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CECC2 COMMON NAMES : buttonbush common buttonbush button willow riverbush buttonball TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for buttonbush is Cephalanthus occidentalis L. (Rubiaceae) [8]. Recognized varieties are as follows [8,21,28]: C. occidentalis var. pubescens (Raf.) C. occidentalis var. californicus (Benth.) C. occidentalis var. angustifolius (Dippel) LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Buttonbush extends from southern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario south through southern Florida and west through the eastern half of the Great Plains States [8,16]. Scattered populations exist in New Mexico, Arizona, and the central valley of California [28]. The variety californicus is found in California; the variety pubescens is found from southeast Virginia to Georgia and Texas, southern Ontario, Indiana, Illinois, and Oklahoma [8]. Distribution of the variety angustifolius was not listed. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES32 Texas savanna FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES : AL AZ AR CA CT DE FL GA IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MA MI MN MS MO NE NH NJ NM NC OH OK PA RI SC TN TX VT VA WV WI NB NS ON PQ MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border 7 Lower Basin and Range 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K030 California oakwoods K049 Tule marshes K080 Marl - Everglades K091 Cypress savanna K092 Everglades K098 Northern floodplain forest K099 Maple - basswood forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K105 Mangrove K106 Northern hardwoods K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K114 Pocosin SAF COVER TYPES : 14 Northern pin oak 16 Aspen 19 Grey birch - red maple 26 Sugar maple - basswood 27 Sugar maple 28 Black cherry - maple 39 Black ash - American elm - red maple 43 Bear oak 63 Cottonwood 64 Sassafras - persimmon 65 Pin oak - sweet gum 74 Cabbage palmetto 87 Sweet gum - yellow-poplar 88 Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak 89 Live oak 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash 94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm 95 Black willow 96 Overcup oak - water hickory 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 102 Baldcypress - tupelo 103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay 105 Tropical hardwoods 106 Mangrove 108 Red maple 235 Cottonwood - willow SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Buttonbush is a wetland shrub common to most swamps and floodplains of eastern and southern North America [8,28]. It is listed as a component of the following community types: Area Classification Authority CA: Sacramento Valley riparian cts Conard & others 1977 United States wetland cts Cowardin & others 1979


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Many species of waterfowl and shorebirds eat buttonbush seeds [18,28]. White-tailed deer use of buttonbush browse varies from light in Pennsyvania [32] to heavy in Nova Scotia [23]. Bees use buttonbush to produce honey [31]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Buttonbush is important to wood ducks for brood rearing and hiding [19]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The bark of buttonbush was traditionally used for making laxatives, and for curing skin, bronchial, and venereal diseases [28]. Caution must be used, however, because the bark contains cephalathin, a poison that can induce vomitting, paralysis, and convulsions. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Much of buttonbush's natural habitat in California is being destroyed by agriculture and water development projects; buttonbush is not a good colonizer of manmade waterways [13]. Buttonbush is moderately susceptible to herbicides; if shrubs become too thick, they can be reduced by cutting in the fall during low water [4,18].


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Buttonbush is a deciduous, warm-season, tall shrub or small tree that can reach up to 18 feet (6 m) in height [28]. Its base is often swollen. Branches are usually green when young but turn brown at maturity. Buttonbush has opposite, lanceolate-oblong leaves about 7 inches (18 cm) long and 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide [24]. Tiny, white flowers occur in dense, spherical clusters at the ends of the branches. Fruits are a round cluster of brown, cone-shaped nutlets. The variety angustifolius usually has leaves in whorls of threes [28]. The variety pubescens has hairs on the lower leaf surfaces [8]. The variety californicus has more lanceolate leaves than the other two varieties [21]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Buttonbush regenerates by seed. Seed is best collected when the nutlets have turned reddish-brown, and averages about 134,000 per pound (60,702/kg) [31]. Pretreatment of seeds is unnecessary [3]. Seeds have a low germination rate [28]. Buttonbush can also be propagated by planting cuttings in moist, sandy soil. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Buttonbush grows along swamps, marshes, bogs, ditches, and other riparian areas that are inundated for at least part of the year [8,24]. It grows in alluvial plains that experience intermittant flooding, but can be damaged by spring flooding [12,20,23]. Faber-Langendoen and Maycock [7] reported that buttonbush was very tolerant of flooding and that its abundance increased with increasing water depth. These authors also reported an increase in buttonbush with an increase in light level. Elevational and geographical distribution of buttonbush may be limited by mean July temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 deg C) [13]. Elevations have been reported at 635 feet (193 m) in Illinois [1] and between 60 and 160 feet (22-50 m) in Quebec [27]. Buttonbush was found growing in sandy, loamy sandy, or alluvial soil with a sandy or silty surface in Quebec [27]. Common associates of buttonbush include American beech (Fagus grandifolia), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), ash (Fraxinus spp.), black oak (Quercus velutina), pin oak (Q. palustris), tupelo and gum (Nyssa spp.), baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), redbay (Persea palustris), holly (Ilex spp.), dogberry (Ribes cynosbati), grape (Vitis spp.), viburnum (Viburnum spp.), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), indiangrass (Sorgastrom nutans), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and sedge (Carex spp.) [5,7,11]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Buttonbush is a pioneer species in frequently flooded baldcypress/water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) swamps, establishing on rotting logs and stumps [35]. In the Sacremento Valley, buttonbush/dogwood (Corunus spp.) communities are succeeded by white alder (Alnus rhombifolia)/willow (Salix spp.)/Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) and eventually cottonwood (Populus spp.) forests [36]. Buttonbush also colonizes lowland marsh communities dominated by hardstem bulrush (Scirpus acutus). SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Buttonbush flowers between June and September and produces fruit between September and October [8,24,28].


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Because the base of buttonbush shrubs are partially submerged during most of the year, fire may not be a threat. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : NO-ENTRY DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Buttonbush resprouts following fire [9,11]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Buttonbush can become the dominant shrub in grassy, wetland areas of the South excluded from fire [14]. However, when these areas are burned buttonbush has been observed sprouting within a few months following fire [9,11,29]. Frequent fires in harwood swamps of the South often promote willow sprouting and, occasionally, buttonbush sprouting [30]. Following 2 years of drought, a severe fire in an area of the Okefenokee Swamp that supported buttonbush killed most of the trees and consumed a 1-inch (2.45 cm) layer of peat [34]. Buttonbush resprouted 7 years later. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In Southern marshlands, where grasses are thick and impenetrable, fire can reduce grass densities and release nutrients, which enhances establishment of shrubs such as buttonbush [29].


SPECIES: Cephalanthus occidentalis
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[11477] 21. Powell, A. Michael. 1988. Trees & shrubs of Trans-Pecos Texas including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. Big Bend National Park, TX: Big Bend Natural History Association. 536 p. [6130] 22. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 23. Roland, A. E. 1991. Coastal-plain plants in inland Nova Scotia. Rhodora. 93(875): 291-298. [16490] 24. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907] 25. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1937. Range plant handbook. Washington, DC. 532 p. [2387] 26. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 27. Vincent, Gilles; Bergeron, Yves; Meilleur, Alain. 1986. 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