Monday, June 6, 2011
Buttonbush ~ Elizabeth Smith
The creamy white flower balls have a sweet scent and attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. The fruit ball is composed of small nutlets, which serve as a food source for ducks and other birds. The bushy growth provides cover for birds and other small animals. The leaves on this buttonbush are whorled in groups of three, but they also grow in opposite pairs. buttonbush is deciduous, which means that it drops its leaves in the fall or winter. The new growth on this shrub is tinged with red on the petioles (leaf stems) and the tips of the leaves.
Although considered inedible for humans and horses, deer are reported to enjoy the foliage and young twigs. Buttonbush leaves, bark, and roots had wide uses as a decoction, a gargle, and poultice and were used by Native Americans and European settlers to cure ailments from dysentery to toothache. However, the plant contains toxins that often had worse effects than the illness it treated, and eventually fell out of favor.
I often draw directly in ink in the field with a bit of preliminary color, adding more color and calligraphy labels later. I used a Sepia Micron Pigma pen and a combination of Kimberly and Derwent watercolor pencils with a Niji Aquabrush. Late May and early June days in southwest Florida can be extremely HOT until our summer rains start. This is a buttonbush growing along the boardwalk at Freedom Park here in Naples. It was a nice shady spot, and the boardwalk has a convenient rail, perfect for resting a sketchpad!
If you’d like to read more about buttonbush, please visit the following links:
~ Elizabeth Smith, Naples, Florida, USA