Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Cephalanthus occidentalis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: RubiaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to tree, vine. Leaf: generally opposite (whorled), entire; stipules generally fused to stem, adjacent pairs occasionally fused, or occasionally leaf-like and appearing like whorled leaves. Inflorescence: cyme, panicle, spike, cluster, or flower 1, generally terminal and +- axillary. Flower: generally bisexual; calyx +- 4(5)-lobed, occasionally 0 (Galium, Crucianella) or 6 (Sherardia); corolla generally radial, 4(5)-lobed; stamens epipetalous, alternate corolla lobes, generally included; ovary generally inferior, chambers generally 2 or 4, style 1(2). Fruit: drupe, berry, or 2 or 4 nutlets [capsule].
Genera In Family: +- 500 genera, 6000 species: worldwide, especially tropics; many cultivated, including Coffea, coffee; Cinchona, quinine; many ornamental. Note: Diodia teres Walter doubtfully in California.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Lauramay T. Dempster, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CephalanthusView Description 

Common Name: BUTTON BUSH
Habit: Shrub, small tree. Leaf: opposite or in whorls of 3; stipules not leaf-like. Inflorescence: head, dense-spheric, peduncled. Flower: calyx 4-lobed; corolla narrowly funnel-shaped; style thin, exserted, stigma +- spheric. Fruit: nutlets 2--4, dry, brown, wider distally.
Species In Genus: +- 17 species: warm-temperate America, Asia, southern Africa. Etymology: (Greek: head flower)
Cephalanthus occidentalis L.
Habit: Plant 2--10 m. Stem: young stems round, +- red, glabrous. Leaf: 7--20 cm, elliptic to ovate, petioled, glabrous in age. Inflorescence: 3--3.5 cm; peduncle 2.5--5 cm. Flower: corolla white or +- yellow, tube slender, lobes obtuse; stigma long-exserted.
Ecology: Lake, stream edges; Elevation: < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: se KR, NCoRI, SNF, c SNH, GV, reported from SCoRO, MP; Distribution Outside California: Arizona, eastern North America, Mexico, Central America. Flowering Time: May--Sep Note: If recognized taxonomically, California plants assignable to Cephalanthus occidentalis var. californicus Benth.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Lauramay T. Dempster
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Cephalanthus occidentalis

botanical illustration including Cephalanthus occidentalis


Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Lauramay T. Dempster 2012, Cephalanthus occidentalis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, eflora_display.php?tid=18612, accessed on January 19, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 19, 2020.

Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2014 Neal Kramer
Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2005 George W. Hartwell
Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2014 Neal Kramer
Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2016 Barry Rice
Cephalanthus occidentalis
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© 2015 Barry Breckling

More photos of Cephalanthus occidentalis in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Cephalanthus occidentalis:
se KR, NCoRI, SNF, c SNH, GV, reported from SCoRO, MP
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


View elevation by latitude chart

Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).