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Buttonbush in the Everglades.jpg
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Cinchonoideae
Tribe: Naucleeae
Genus: Cephalanthus
Type species
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cephalanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. There are about six species that are commonly known as buttonbush.[1][2]


They are shrubs or small trees growing to 5–15 m (16–49 ft) tall. The leaves are simple, arranged in opposite pairs or whorls of three. The flowers form a dense globular inflorescence.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Cephalanthus occidentalis is native to the eastern United States and Canada. The others occur in tropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia.[3] Two species are known in cultivation.[4]


Cephalanthus was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.[5] The generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek words κέφαλη (kephale), meaning "head", and ἄνθος (anthos), meaning "flower".[6]


Cephalanthus is the most basal genus in the tribe Naucleeae.[7] Some authors have segregated it into its own monotypic tribe.[8] The type species is Cephalanthus occidentalis.[9]


Fossil record[edit]

16 fossil mericarps of †Chephalanthus pusillus have been described from middle Miocene strata of the Fasterholt area near Silkeborg in Central Jutland, Denmark.[10]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Cephalanthus
  2. ^ Flora of China, Cephalanthus
  3. ^ Mabberley DJ (2008). Mabberley's Plant Book (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82071-4.
  4. ^ Huxley AJ et al. (eds.) The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. The Macmillan Press Limited, London; The Stockton Press, New York. 1992. ISBN 978-0-333-47494-5
  5. ^ Linnaeus, C. Cephalanthus. Species Plantarum. 1753. 1: 95
  6. ^ Quattrocchi, U. (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Vol. 1. Boca Raton, New York, Washington DC, London: CRC Press. p. 476. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2.
  7. ^ Manns, U. and B. Bremer. 2010. Towards a better understanding of intertribal relationships and stable tribal delimitations within Cinchonoideae s.s. (Rubiaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 56(1), 21-39. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.04.002
  8. ^ Ridsdale CE (1976). "A revision of the tribe Cephalantheae (Rubiaceae)". Blumea. 23 (1): 177–88.
  9. ^ Cephalanthus. Index Nominum Genericorum. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
  10. ^ Angiosperm Fruits and Seeds from the Middle Miocene of Jutland (Denmark) by Else Marie Friis, The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 24:3, 1985

External links[edit]