Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Buttonbush

Last spring I was at The Anita Gorman Discovery Center and was delighted to find a buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a shrub native to this area.

Later in the year it looked like this...

And then later in the summer, it bloomed.

The flowers are just so darn odd.

They look like a styrofoam ball pincushion...  Oddest, oddest things.

When I went on the Miami County Farm Crawl last May, I stopped at a nursery and brought home three buttonbushes.

I wasn't sure where to plant them and since they like water and they don't mind even living in water occasionally, I set them in the creek so they wouldn't dry out by the time I returned the following week (or um, weeks).

Sometimes I'd find this....you know, after it rained. Then I'd have to track the missing ones somewhere down the creek. I don't think they were very happy to have more than their roots submerged in water.

And I don't think this guy was happy about me removing him from a submerged pot, his newly claimed home.

He finally had enough of me (and our staring contest) and then backed away quickly right back into the creek. Just like that. Gone.

I also bought another buttonbush somewhere along the way last year, a small one, and that one stayed in my backyard for the summer and then surprised me with one bloom. One day it looked like this...

...the next day it looked like this:

And that's when the bugs discovered it because that flower was sticky sweet with nectar. The flower was so sticky, if you disturbed a nomming insect, it had a hard time lifting its feet to get out of the way.

Eventually I got them planted in a row on a bank beside the creek but kind of late in the year. I wasn't so sure they would survive my bad treatment of them...

...but they did. And at the end of March, they had already started putting out their fresh new leaves in their new, finally permanent, home...

...looking relieved and in plant language, shouting out a hallelujah.

9 comments:

Deedee said...

I love this post! These bushes are wonderful. I've seen them before but never this close up. Little balls of teeny flowers-how amazing. I also love that you captured that grumpy crayfish. Great photos, Maria.

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Maria that one poor Buttonbush floating face down is sad and cracks me up at the same time! I know it will be ok cause it has you to tend to it. They look great planted where they seem to be happy!

Maria said...

Hi Deedee!!!!! Thank-you for your very nice comment. Sheesh. But aren't those sputnik flowers extra cool? They're very sticky because every insect that landed on that one flower, had to grab its legs and pull to get away....although they didn't want to..... must be some super-concentrated nectar in those flowers. And that crayfish was so funny even though he was not happy about being discovered....although he was patient enough for my few minutes of picture-taking. It's usually hard to get a good look at those guys. I remember watching them last year scooting the tadpoles away when they got too close to their "front porches" under the rocks. Lots of things go on in that creek....I just don't get to see the drama as often as I would like....because a lot of that drama happens under a rock!

Pix-I am not going to admit how many times I returned to that creek to witness an Ophelia drowning scene from Hamlet as acted out by a buttonbush. I am really, really surprised that they survived my terrible treatment (they also drove in the back of a car all day on that farm crawl). I think they should be very happy with where I planted them though....took me long enough to figure out the best spot for them...

You know that wonderful fire-on-the-mountain you gave me? It lasted a couple years but this winter it succumbed. :-( Well, it's supposed to be an annual but I did manage to keep it beautiful for two years. I planted the seeds Mr. Pix gathered up last month and one germinated last week! I'm very excited about that. I don't know why they don't sell those plants at nurseries because they are so pretty. I like the ones growing on your side of the state better though. The ones in Kansas have very skinny leaves.

Kimberly said...

Such a fun post! Especially since we don't see these interesting flowers in the South. We do, however, see those "mudbugs" and all I can say is, he should be thankful he isn't living in these parts. :)

Maria said...

Kimberly-Oh you southerners....you dine on the craziest things. I love the name "mudbug!" :-) And as for where buttonbushes grow.....they're native to the south too. I had just never seen one before I read up on them and then found some growing at a conservation area. They're big dense shrubs but they make up for it with those crazy spiky pompoms. And the reason I'm growing them-the regular bugs love them! Just found out that two sphinx moths need the buttonbush as a larval host and I do love sphinx moths.....even though the caterpillars are kind of big and they sure can eat.......a lot......

pakaian muslim said...

This really is wonderful article ! I simply love’d it !

ZielonaMila said...

Fantastic photographs, nature is unusual. I am greeting

Kimberly said...

Aside from this post ... I have been rescuing a lot of turtles from the roads after all these summer rains and I think of you each time. Please post! Missing you and the gang!

Maria said...

Kimberly-Aw, that's nice. I've been seeing a lot of turtles this year too! Okay, regarding my laziness about posting.....thanks for the kick in the pants. I'll get right on it when I get home from work tonight because I have a turtle story!

Pakaian-Thanks for your nice comment. Not sure why people responded to this particular post but appreciate it just the same. :-)

ZielonaMila-I know. Nature IS unusual. Always a surprise and I mean always! Thanks for your comment and greeting!