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Cephalanthus occidentalis is an herb native to the warm parts of Europe and Asia. In the 19th century, Western herbalists found it to have an effect as an anesthetic (antidote), and sometimes used in the treatment of rheumatism, bronchitis, and malaria.Cephalanthus occidentalis is a deciduous shrub or small tree that averages 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) in height, but can reach 6 m (20 ft). The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three, elliptic to ovate, 7–18 cm (2.8–7.1 in) long and 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) broad, with a smooth edge and a short petiole. The flowers are arranged in a dense spherical inflorescence 2–3.5 cm (0.79–1.38 in) in diameter on a short peduncle.
The town of Buttonwillow, California was named for the buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). A lone buttonbush served as a landmark on an old trans-San Joaquin Valley trail, and was used by ancient Yokut Indians as a meeting place. It later became the site of settlers' stock rodeos. This buttonbush tree is listed as California Historical Landmark No. 492, and is now known as the "Buttonwillow Tree."AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Snyder, S. A. 1991. Cephalanthus occidentalis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Connor, K. 2004. Cephalanthus occidentalis buttonbush, p. 170-172. In: J. K. Francis (ed.). “Wildland shrubs of the United States and its territories: thamnic descriptions”: vol. 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. IITF-GTR-26. San Juan, PR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 30 July 2019 .“’Keystone’ buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis); A Conservation Plant Released by the USDA NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials Center, Corning, New York.” USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Big Flats Plant Materials Center, Corning, New York, 14830. Published [March 2015]. 9 Dec 2019 . (Source: hgic.clemson.edu)