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What are Billy Buttons?

J.M. Densing
J.M. Densing

The term Billy buttons is one of the common names for plants that belong to the genus Craspedia, particularly the species named Craspedia globosa, which is actually a type of daisy. It is a flowering perennial plant with a unique appearance that features bright yellow blossoms that resemble pom poms. Billy buttons is native to Australia and New Zealand and cultivated in other areas of the world as well. It grows in gardens as an ornamental plant and is frequently used as a cut flower.

The plant has silvery gray foliage and stems. It forms rosette shaped clumps of long narrow leaves at the base that rises to a height of about 12 inches (30.5 cm). From this mound of foliage, long leafless stems rise to support the flowers. The flowering stems are thick and sturdy, typically growing as tall as 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91.4 cm) high when mature.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Some other names for the Billy buttons include woolyheads, Billy balls, and drumsticks. The flowers resemble large, bright yellow pom poms about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) wide. Each plant usually produces one flower head. The head is actually made of numerous closely spaced tiny yellow florets arranged together in a rounded globe shape. Other more rare Craspedia species have a similar appearance, but may be available in other colors.

Billy buttons are native to Australia and New Zealand, where they grow as perennial wildflowers. They are found all over Australia and in the southern regions of New Zealand, growing in a variety of habitats. They are able to thrive in coastal areas, grasslands, eucalyptus woods, and mountains. They are fairly hardy and can adapt to a variety of weather conditions, but seem to grow best in warm temperatures. They are also grown in cultivation in other areas of the world, such as Great Britain and the U.S., and can be treated as an annual in areas with cooler climates.

Billy buttons can be grown in gardens as a decorative plant; many gardeners enjoy the contrast of the distinctive silvery foliage and round flower heads with other plants. They need to be planted in a location with full to partial sunlight and well drained soil. Billy buttons should be watered on a regular basis but can tolerate dry conditions when necessary. They are relatively low maintenance plants and will self seed easily. They are popular as a fresh cut flower in a variety of applications including wedding bouquets and have a range of uses as a dried flower as well.

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