Family: Rubiaceae Madder Family
Habit: Deciduous shrub, 1-3 m tall.
Leaves: Opposite or whorled and entire. Broad leaves are ovoid to elliptic, with pointed ends. Leaves 7-15 cm long, 3-10 cm broad.
Flowers/fruit: Flowers are small white tubes, formed on globose heads about 3 cm in diameter. Clusters appear as balls or ‘buttons’ following summer flowering period.
Habitat: Perimeter of lakes, ponds, freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, along streams throughout NC, but less frequent in the mountains.
Field characteristics: Twigs have raised elongated lenticels. A brown triangular membrane is present between petioles. Spherical ‘buttons’ persist through winter. Early settlers were said to have used the buttons in clothing. When flowering, butterflies are strongly attracted.