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Cephalanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the madder family, Rubiaceae. There are about 6 species,[3][4] which are commonly known as buttonbushes.[5] Cephalanthus occidentalis is native to the eastern United States and Canada. The others occur in tropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia.[6] Two species are known in cultivation.[7]

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.

Cephalanthus was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.[4][8] The generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek words κέφαλος (kephalos), meaning "head", and ἄνθος (anthos), meaning "flower."[9]

Cephalanthus is the most basal genus in the tribe Naucleeae.[10] Some authors have segregated it into its own monotypic tribe.[11] The type species for Cephalanthus is Cephalanthus occidentalis.[12]


Species include:[3][13]

Formerly placed here


  1. ^ "Genus Cephalanthus (buttonbushes)". Taxonomy. UniProt. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  2. ^ "Genus: Cephalanthus L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  3. ^ a b Cephalanthus. The Plant List.
  4. ^ a b Cephalanthus. Flora of China.
  5. ^ Cephalanthus. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  6. ^ Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley's Plant-Book, third edition (2008). Cambridge University Press: UK. ISBN 978-0-521-82071-4
  7. ^ Huxley, A. J., 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 (set)
  8. ^ Carolus Linnaeus. Cephalanthus. Species Plantarum. 1753. 1:95. Holmiae: Impensis Laurentii Salvii: Stockholm, Sweden.
  9. ^ Quattrocchi, U. (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. I: A-C. CRC Press. p. 476. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2. 
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Ridsdale, C. E. 1976. A revision of the tribe Cephalantheae (Rubiaceae). Blumea 23(1), 177-88.
  12. ^ Cephalanthus. Index Nominum Genericorum. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
  13. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 'Cephalanthus
  14. ^ Biota of North America Program, distribution map, Cephalanthus occidentalis
  15. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Cephalanthus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 


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