Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis

Buttonbush, also called Button-ball and Honey-ball, is a deciduous shrub native to East Canada, Central America, Cuba, much of the United States, and is found in all areas of North Carolina. It can grow as a tree up to 20 feet but is usually a small shrub up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

This shrub needs consistently moist to wet, rich soils in full to partial sun. It does well in swamps, streambanks, riverbanks, lakes, and often in standing water up to 3 feet. It is adaptable to various soil types, except for dry ones, and is tolerant of heat and soil compaction. Flowering is poor in the shade or in dry soils. It is multi-stemmed with a rounded to irregular crown and needs little pruning.

From June to September small, fragrant, white, tubular flowers occur in round clusters that have protruding styles, giving them a pincushion-like effect. The fruits are reddish-brown, showy, and persist into winter. Buttonbush has exceptional wildlife benefits, attracting many types of pollinators, waterfowl, birds, and mammals.

Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Songbirds and waterfowl eat seeds. Moderately deer resistant. This plant provides nectar for pollinators.

This shrub can be used for erosion control on wet sites. Use it in a rain or water garden, around a pond or along streams and boggy areas with poor drainage.

Note for beekeepers. This plant is described in Lovell's, Honey Plants of North America as producing a "mild, light-colored honey of fine flavor."

Above, photo by Debbie Roos CC BY 2.0 Below, photo by BotBin CC BY-SA 3.0

Sources:https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants, https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=caam2, other authoritative resources and personal experience.