Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

From 2013

with 50 comments

Buttonbush Flower Globe Along Bull Creek 7255

On June 27, 2013, I photographed this flower head of a buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, in Bull Creek Park.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 8, 2015 at 5:17 AM

50 Responses

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  1. This one lights up the sky. Beautiful.


    June 8, 2015 at 5:47 AM

    • Speaking of lighting up the sky, I’d thought of mentioning that it must have been the clear sky reflecting in the creek that created that preternaturally blue background. It occurs to me now that perhaps I should also have mentioned that buttonbush flower globes have quite a pleasant fragrance. See what information your comment has brought out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 5:52 AM

      • I wondered about that blue background! A perfect contrast to the flower.

        Susan Scheid

        June 9, 2015 at 7:42 AM

        • That “bluer than blue” background did the trick for me too, Susan.

          I notice that buttonbushes are native in the Hudson Valley (and almost everywhere else in the Northeast), so perhaps you’ll get to see (and sniff) some of these flower globes soon.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 9, 2015 at 11:07 AM

  2. I am pleased to know it has a pleasing fragrance. It would do for a buttonhole.


    June 8, 2015 at 6:20 AM

  3. It looks like some celestial object.

    Maria F.

    June 8, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    • With reference to celestial, the color of the cielo contributed, along with the water, to the deep blue in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 7:21 AM

  4. Fireworks!

    Jim in IA

    June 8, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    • I can see it now, but as many times as I’ve come across buttonbush flower globes, my imagination never invoked fireworks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 7:24 AM

  5. Back in the 1960s (as I remember) it became the custom to make Christmas decorations from styrofoam balls: pinning sequins, crystals and beads onto them with decorative pins. Here, it looks as though Nature’s hand has pinned a plethora of blooms onto a ball — a perfect decoration for the season.


    June 8, 2015 at 6:56 AM

    • I wonder if pieces of styrofoam have served as pincushions, because the image of pins in a pincushion is one that often comes up when people write about buttonbush flower globes.

      Except where the stalk comes up from below, these flowers cover their supporting globe. I’ve done a little looking but haven’t found any estimates of the number of flowers on a typical buttonbush flower globe. I guess I could do some counting the next time I encounter one, which shouldn’t be long now that the season is at hand.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 7:45 AM

      • I remember filling our homemade pincushions with ground walnut shells or unwashed wool. Both help to keep the pins shiny. And the little sharpener that’s attached (usually a little “strawberry”) was filled with emery.

        Good grief. That sounds awfully little-house-on-the-prairie-ish.

        Speaking of ground walnut shells, they used to be mixed with paint and used as non-skid on boat decks.


        June 8, 2015 at 7:56 AM

  6. Good morning sunshine (sorry, that’s my immediate response)…


    June 8, 2015 at 7:10 AM

  7. Amazing detail! I find photographing flowers to be a challenge, and you are a master at it. This is beautiful.

    carolyn aka skip

    June 8, 2015 at 8:43 AM

  8. One of my all-time favorite plants~ I have one in my rain garden and last year it gave me some wonderful flowers. I don’t know whether it is wet enough this year. It looks like it is so proud of itself, doesn’t it, with its flower flourish?


    June 8, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    • How nice that you have one of these in your garden. You may be short on rain this year up there, but central Texas certainly hasn’t been, so I’m hoping the buttonbushes will thrive. June is their usual time here to start flowering, so I may find out soon enough.

      I’d never thought of a buttonbush being proud of itself, but I can understand how you came to that conceit (I couldn’t resist playing off the two senses of the word).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 9:23 AM

  9. Nice. We should be seeing buttonbush flowers in another month or so. I’ve yet to manage an image successfully as you have done here. I like the reflected sky as a background.

    Steve Gingold

    June 8, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    • The rich blue sky/water background differentiated this view from most others I’ve made of buttonbush globes over the years. May this be your summer to photograph one in a way that pleases you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 8, 2015 at 4:14 PM

  10. Stunning shot. I am featuring New Zealand birds for the next couple of weeks on my Wordless Wednesday posts.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 9, 2015 at 2:04 AM

  11. This is cute! Reminds me of the Australian ‘pom pom’ (my name for it)…


    June 9, 2015 at 4:29 AM

    • I think it’s hard not to favor “global” flowers. Which one do you have in mind with “Australian pom pom”?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 9, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      • If I knew its name, Steve, I would have given it to you…I just admire them and photograph them!! lol. I’ll be posting an ‘illustrated’ version of it some time soon. I’ll let you know. Regards,


        June 12, 2015 at 2:14 AM

  12. craig78681

    June 9, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    • It certainly looks like it. The USDA map at


      shows the species in Florida (and many other places), and the only other Cephalanthus species I’ve found a reference to in the United States occurs at the southern tip of Texas and down into Mexico.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 9, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      • Dang. That’s a pretty wide ranging habitat.


        June 9, 2015 at 11:11 AM

        • Yup, that’s one hardy species to be able to tolerate such extremes of hot and cold and such differences in annual rainfall. That means a lot of people have the opportunity to see and enjoy buttonbushes.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 9, 2015 at 11:14 AM

  13. Wow. Simply … wow. D

    Pairodox Farm

    June 10, 2015 at 5:46 PM

  14. All I can say is WOW that’s beautiful!


    June 10, 2015 at 6:13 PM

  15. Excellent !! So weird !


    September 4, 2015 at 2:22 PM

    • Weird if you haven’t seen them before, and yet these bushes are common across much of the eastern United States (in fact I saw one when I was out photographing this morning). The flower globes are fragrant par dessus le marché.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2015 at 5:27 PM

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