Walking along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, I noticed this distinctive white, spherical flower with needle-like projections growing on a shrub.
This plant is a member of the Coffee Family and is native to eastern and southern North America. Like the Coffee Plant, its leaves are glossy green and up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. It’s unusual flowers are a source of nectar, attracting butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds and 20-something other species of birds.
Buttonbush can be found in wet habitats such as marshes, shorelines, ditches and areas near the rivers and ponds. It is one of the first plants that will appear in areas destroyed by floods.
This is multi-branched, round-shaped shrub typically reaches 6 to 12 feet in height. Its older trunk bark is attractively diamond-patterned with lattice-like raised ridges. Its fruit is a reddish-brown, round-shaped capsule filled with two seeds. It ripens during September and October. Ducks and other waterfowl eat Buttonbush seeds.
If you come across a Buttonbush in bloom and patiently observe the activity around it, you’ll be likely to see spiders, bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and perhaps even a hummingbird buzzing around its flowers.
You’ll understand very quickly why this plant is so important native wildlife and our environment.