Buddleja saligna

Botanical name

Buddleja saligna (SA No 636)

Other names

False olive; butterfly bush; chilianthus olearaceus; witolien (Afrikaans); mothlware (Tswana); ungqeba (Xhosa)


Buddlejaceae (some records place it in Scrophulariaceae or Loganiaceae!)


Shrub or small to medium tree; slender, erect evergreen; 2 to 7 m; in the warm high rainfall areas it may reach 10 m

Description of stem

Brown, greyish brown; flaking, fissured; the young branchlets tend to be square

Description of leaves

Oblong or lanceolate, decussate; dark green above, grey, hairy below; netveining conspicuously raised and linked along the inside of the edges

Description of flowers

Abundant terminal and axillary heads of small, creamy-white, pleasantly scented flowerheads structured in three-flowered cymes; from August to January

Description of seed/fruit

Small, ovoid, hairy capsule, 2 mm in length, containing very small seeds

Description of roots




Propagation and cultivation

Grows easily from seed and cuttings; fast-growing


Hardy in the dry summer rainfall areas, frost resistant


Garden tree with spectacular spring flowers, an option for the smaller garden; used as a bonsai species; leaf decoctions used medicinally for coughs and colds, sometimes for thrush, sores and even diabetes and tuberculosis; the roots are sometimes used as a purgative by indigenous populations; the straight stems are good for fence posts and the wood is also used for smaller utensils

Ecological rarity

Common, robust spontaneous propagation in some areas as a pioneer tree

Pests and diseases



Attracts insects and thus insect-eating birds


Dry slopes in woodland, rocky outcrops, forest margins and ravines; it is often a pioneer for indigenous bush


Western, Northern and Eastern Cape; Kwazulu-Natal; Free State; Gauteng; North West; Limpopo; Mpumalanga


South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe