From The Plant Encyclopedia

Butterfly Bush

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Buddleja davidii (white flowered form)

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Category Tree, Shrub
Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Angiospermae
Order Lamiales
Family Scrophulariaceae
Species in this genus
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Aden Earth Zone

4 - 16


  • Cultivation: Naturalizing, Low-Maintenance, Easy-To-Grow
  • Light: Sun
  • Soil: Rich, Mid-Fertility, Poor, Clay, Sand, Rock
  • pH: 6, 7
  • Moisture: Medium, Dry


  • Form: Tree, Shrub
  • Habit: Deciduous
  • Flower: Large, Floret, Yellow, Pink, Purple, White
  • Fruit/Seed: Small, Brown
  • Foliage: Leaves, Green
  • Uses: Ornamental


Buddleja, often misspelled Buddleia (), and often with the common name Butterfly Bush[1] is a Genus of Flowering plants. The generic name honours Reverend Adam Buddle (1662–1715), who was a Botanist and a rector in Essex, England but could never have seen a plant. It is now included in the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae, though in the past was previously classified in either the Loganiaceae or in a family of its own, the Buddlejaceae.

Popular Cultivated Species

Butterfly Bush Buddleja davidii

Alternate Leaved Butterfly Bush Buddleja alternifolia

Butterfly bush1.jpg


The roughly 100 species are mostly Shrubs, a few being Trees; the largest species reach tall, but most species rarely exceed tall. Both Evergreen and Deciduous species occur. Over 60 species are native throughout the warmer parts of the New World from the Southern United States south to Chile, many other species are found in the Old World, in Africa and the warmer parts of Asia, but absent as natives from Europe and Australasia. The species are divided into two groups based on their floral type, those in the New World being dioecious, and those in the Old World being monoecious.


The leaves are lanceolate in most species, and arranged in opposite pairs on the stems (alternate in one species, B. alternifolia); they range from long. The Flowers are produced in dense Panicles long; each individual flower is tubular, about long, with the corolla divided into four spreading lobes (Petals), about across. Flower colour varies widely, with white, pink, red, purple, orange or yellow flowers produced by different species and cultivars; they are rich in Nectar and often strongly scented. The Fruit is a small capsule about long and diameter, containing numerous small Seeds; in a few species (previously classified in the separate genus Nicodemia) the capsule is soft and fleshy, forming a Berry.

Humming Bird-Butterfly Bush.jpg

Cultivation and uses

As garden shrubs Buddleias are 20th-century plants, with the exception of B. globosa, brought from southern Chile to Britain in 1774 and disseminated from the nursery of Lee and Kennedy, Hammersmith.
Several species are popular garden plants, the species are commonly known as butterfly bush due to their attractiveness to Butterflies and have become staples of the modern Butterfly garden; they are also attractive to Bees and Moths. Some species of Buddleja with red flowers are also attractive to Hummingbirds.
The most popular cultivated species is Buddleja davidii from central China, named after the French naturalist Père Armand David. Other common garden species include Buddleja globosa from southern Chile, grown for its strongly Honey-scented orange globular flower-heads, and Buddleja alternifolia with lilac-coloured flowers. Several interspecific hybrids can also be found, including B. × weyeriana (B. globosa × B. davidii).
Some species commonly escape from the garden. B. davidii in particular is a great coloniser of dry open ground; in towns in the United Kingdom, it often self-sows on waste ground or old masonry, where it grows into a dense thicket, and it is listed as an Invasive species in many areas. It is frequently seen beside railway lines, on derelict factory sites and after the Second World War on urban bomb sites.
Popular garden varieties of Buddleja include "Royal Red" with pink-red flowers, "Black Knight" with dark navy blue flowers, "Sungold" with golden yellow flowers and "Pink Delight" with pastel pink coloured flowers. In recent years, much breeding work has been undertaken to create more compact buddlejas, the most recent of which is the production of a dwarf variety Lo & Behold(TM) "Blue Chip"(TM) that reaches no more than tall.

Butterfly Bush-Seeds.jpg


See also


Asiatic and African species:
  • Leeuwenberg, A. J. M. (1979) The Loganiaceae of Africa XVIII Buddleja L. II, Revision of the African & Asiatic species. H. Veenman & Zonen B. V., Wageningen, Netherlands.
American species:
  • Norman, E. (2000). Buddlejaceae. Flora Neotropica, Vol. 81. New York Botanical Garden, USA.
All species:
  • Stuart, D. (2006). Buddlejas. Timber Press, Oregon, USA. ISBN=9780881926880


  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607; OED: "Buddleia"

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