Cephalanthus occidentalis L.

Cephalanthus occidentalis plant

Family - Rubiaceae

Stems - Woody, to 5m tall, multiple or with a single trunk, glabrous.

Leaves - Opposite or whorled, to 15cm long, 7cm broad, typically oblong to broadly elliptic, glabrous or with some tufts of hairs in axils of nerves (veins), petiolate.

Cephalanthus occidentalis leaves

Inflorescence - Globose head of many flowers, (to 3cm in diameter), on single peduncle from leaf axils and terminal.

Flowers - White. Corolla tubular, 4-lobed, +/- 1cm long. Style long protruding from corolla. Stamens 4, included within corolla.

Cephalanthus occidentalis flowers

Flowering - June - August.

Habitat - Moist to wet ground, occasionally cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is a very common shrub in swamps and wet woods. It is toxic if eaten.
Steyermark lists two varieties for this state. Variety occidentalis (pictured above) has glabrous leaves and stems. Variety pubescens has pubescent branches and leaves which are pubescent on the lower surface.

Photographs taken near Hwy. H, Shannon County, MO., 7-18-03.