MADDER FAMILY - Rubiaceae: Button-bush; Honey-balls; Globe-flower; Button-ball Shrub; River-bush
Flowers--Fragrant, white, small, tubular, hairy within, 4-parted, the long, yellow-tipped style far protruding; the florets clustered on a fleshy receptacle, in round heads (about 1 in. across), elevated on long peduncles from leaf axils or ends of branches. Stem: A shrub 3 to 12 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite or in small whorls, petioled, oval, tapering at the tip, entire.
Preferred Habitat--Beside streams and ponds; swamps, low ground.
Distribution--New Brunswick to Florida and Cuba, westward to Arizona and California.
Delicious fragrance, faintly suggesting jessamine, leads one over marshy ground to where the button-bush displays dense, creamy-white globes of bloom, heads that Miss Lounsberry aptly likens to "little cushions full of pins." Not far away the sweet breath of the white-spiked Clethra comes at the same season, and one cannot but wonder why these two bushes, which are so beautiful when most garden shrubbery is out of flower, should be left to waste their sweetness, if not on desert air exactly, on air that blows far from the homes of men. Partially shaded and sheltered positions near a house, if possible, suit these water-lovers admirably. Cultivation only increases their charms. We have not so many fragrant wild flowers that any can be neglected. John Burroughs, who included the blossoms of several trees in his list of fragrant ones, found only thirty-odd species in New England and New York.