Button Bush

A fascinating plant that presumably in past years I walked by blindfolded. A shrubby little tree growing with its feet in the Charles River. Has medicinal uses, but also considered toxic. Good for butterfly gardens! Coffee Family. Native.

Button Bush, Button-willow, Honey Bells (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Water Hemlock

One of North America’s most poisonous plants, contains “cicutoxin.” Many recorded deaths of people, and apparently it kills a lot of grazing livestock. Can grow to 8 feet tall. Apiaceae family. Native.

Water Hemlock, Cowbane, Poison Parsnip (Cicuta)


This is apparently a variety of Snowberry, a shrub in the honeysuckle family. Will have white berries. The inside of the berries looks like sparkling snow. A winter food supply for birds, but poisonous to humans. Native to North and Central America. (Photo by A.F. Aaron.) (He was kind enough to include a bonus Dogbane Beetle, Chrysochus auratus.)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Bonus bug munching on Milkweed leaves: it’s a Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes femoratus)



Toxic. Some insects are immune to the toxicity and feed mainly on this plant. This is one with a long record of cultivation as a medicinal herb, starting with ancient Greece. During the middle ages, high doses were used to cause abortions. Also used to ward off insects and for preservative aspects; packed into coffins and used at funerals, placed into bedding. Used in mosquito repellent. Aster family. Native to Europe and Asia.

Tansy, Bitter Buttons, Cow Bitter, Mugwort, Golden Buttons  (Tanacetum vulgare)