Buttonbush is a great plant for a dramatic display. The flowers resemble large white coronavirus cells, circular in shape with small soft spike protruding. A small red fruit appears later in the fall which is enjoyed by a variety of birds. This plant is best used in wet areas, but can be used in the general landscape.
This shrub is a powerhouse for honey. The nectar and pollen it produces makes it a favorite for all species of bees and butterflies. The leaves have a foul taste to wildlife, so deer browsing is not an issue; however, the fruit produced from the bush is a favorite among birds.
First documented in 1735, the buttonbush was slowly collected and harvested. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon listed it as “Swamp button-wood” in the appendix of his book, The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806 stating “Flowers attract butterflies and the fruits resemble old-fashioned dress buttons, hence the common name.”
The Buttonbush hosts 24 species of butterflies and moths in Jefferson County including the Beautiful Wood-nymph and the Lost Owlet Moth. Birds such as wild turkey, ducks, Cedar waxwings and many other seed bird varieties exploit this shrub.