Cephalanthus occidentalis. Button Bush.

Botanical name: 

Nat. Ord. — Rubiaceae. Sex. Syst. — Tetrandria Monogynia.

The Bark.

Description. — This plant, sometimes called Pond Dogwood, Globe Flower, etc., is a handsome shrub growing from three to fifteen feet high, much branched, bark smooth on the branches, rough on the stems. The leaves are opposite, ternate, with red petioles, oval, base acute, apex acuminate, margin sometimes undulate, smooth on both sides, sometimes slightly pubescent, entire, from three to five inches long, and two to three broad. The flowers are terminal, forming round balls of a cream- white color, about an inch in diameter, resembling the globular inflorescence of the sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis), and are on peduncles about two inches long. Calyx tube produced above the ovary, teeth obtuse, persistent. Corolla with a somewhat funnel-shaped tube, with four ovate segments. Stamens not much longer than the corolla, with yellow anthers. Style filiform, much exserted, with a yellow stigma. Capsules small, crowded, formed of two half bivalve cells, with the valves opposite, each containing one seed.

History. — This plant is found in most parts of the United States and Canada, -by the banks of streams and ponds, and in low, wet situations, flowering in July and August, having a peculiar and heavy odor. The wood is light and spongy. The bark is the part used, and possesses much bitterness. Water or alcohol takes up its virtues.

Properties and Uses. — Tonic, febrifuge, aperient, and diuretic. The bark has been used with much success in intermittent and remittent fevers ; and the inner bark of the root forms an agreeable bitter, which is often employed in coughs, and as a diuretic in gravel. The plant deserves further investigation. It has never been analyzed, but contains some volatile oil, and much bitter extractive.

The American Eclectic Dispensatory, 1854, was written by John King, M. D.