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White buddleia closeup.jpg
Buddleja davidii (white flowered form)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Tribe: Buddlejeae
Genus: Buddleja
Type species
Buddleja americana

About 140 species, see text.


Adenoplea Radlk.
Adenoplusia Radlk.
Buddleia L., orth. var.
Chilianthus Burch.[2]

Buddleja (orth. var. Buddleia) (/ˈbʌdliə/; also historically given as Buddlea) is a genus comprising over 140[3] species of flowering plants endemic to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The generic name bestowed by Linnaeus posthumously honoured the Reverend Adam Buddle (1662–1715), an English botanist and rector, at the suggestion of Dr. William Houstoun. Houstoun sent the first plants to become known to science as buddleja (B. americana) to England from the Caribbean about 15 years after Buddle's death.


The botanic name has been the source of some confusion. By modern practice of botanical Latin, the spelling of a generic name made from 'Buddle' would be Buddleia, but Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum of 1753 and 1754 spelled it Buddleja, with the long i between two vowels, common in early modern orthography.[4] The pronunciation of the long i in Buddleja as j is a common modern error. The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has gradually changed to incorporate stricter rules about orthographic variants and as of the 2006 edition requires (article 60, particularly 60.5) that Linnaeus' spelling should be followed in this case.[5]


The genus Buddleja is now included in Scrophulariaceae, having earlier been classified under Buddlejaceae (synonym: Oftiaceae) and Loganiaceae[6]


Of the approximately 140 species, nearly all are shrubs less than 5 m (16 ft) tall, but a few qualify as trees, the largest reaching 30 m (98 ft). Both evergreen and deciduous species occur, in tropical and temperate regions respectively. The leaves are lanceolate in most species, and arranged in opposite pairs on the stems (alternate in one species, B. alternifolia); they range from 1–30 cm (0.4–11.8 in) long. The flowers of the Asiatic species are mostly produced in terminal panicles 10–50 cm (4–20 in) long; the American species more commonly as cymes forming small, globose heads. Each individual flower is tubular and divided into four spreading lobes (petals) about 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) across, the corolla length ranging from around 10 mm in the Asiatics to 3–30 mm in the American species, the wider variation in the latter because some South American species have evolved long red flowers to attract hummingbirds, rather than insects, as exclusive pollinators.

The colour of the flowers varies widely, from mostly pastel pinks and blues in Asia, to vibrant yellows and reds in the New World, while many cultivars have deeper tones. The flowers are generally rich in nectar and often strongly honey-scented. The fruit is a small capsule about 1 cm (0.39 in) long and 1–2 mm (0.04–0.08 in) 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.


The genus is found in four continents. Over 60 species are native through the New World from the southern United States south to Chile, while many other species are found in the Old World, in Africa, and parts of Asia, but all are absent as natives from Europe and Australasia. The species are divided into three groups based on their floral type: those in the New World are mostly dioecious (occasionally hermaphrodite or trioecious), while those in the Old World are exclusively hermaphrodite with perfect flowers.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

As garden shrubs buddlejas are essentially 20th-century plants, with the exception of B. globosa which was introduced to Britain from southern Chile in 1774 and disseminated from the nursery of Lee and Kennedy, Hammersmith.[7] Several species are popular garden plants, the species are commonly known as 'butterfly bushes' owing to their attractiveness to butterflies, and have become staples of the modern butterfly garden; they are also attractive to bees and moths.

The most popular cultivated species is Buddleja davidii from central China, named for the French Basque missionary and naturalist Père Armand David. Other common garden species include the aforementioned B. globosa, grown for its strongly honey-scented orange globular inflorescences, and the weeping Buddleja alternifolia. Several interspecific hybrids have been made, notably B. 'Lochinch' (B. davidii × B. fallowiana) and B. × weyeriana (B. globosa × B. davidii), the latter a cross between a South American and an Asiatic species.[8]

Some species commonly escape from the garden. B. davidii in particular is a great coloniser of dry open ground; in urban areas in the United Kingdom, it often self-sows on waste ground or old masonry, where it grows into a dense thicket, and is listed as an invasive species in many areas. It is frequently seen beside railway lines, on derelict factory sites and, in the aftermath of World War II, on urban bomb sites. This earned it the popular nickname of 'the bombsite plant' among the war-time generation.[citation needed]

Popular garden cultivars include 'Royal Red' (reddish-purple flowers), 'Black Knight' (very dark purple), 'Sungold' (golden yellow), and 'Pink Delight' (pure pink). In recent years, much breeding work has been undertaken to create small, more compact buddlejas, such as 'Blue Chip' which reach no more than 2–3 ft (0.61–0.91 m) tall, and which are also seed sterile, an important consideration in the US where B. davidii and its cultivars are banned from many states owing to their invasiveness.

Buddleja collections[edit]

In Britain, there are four National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens collections, held by:

  • The Lavender Garden, Ashcroft Nurseries, Kingscote, Tetbury, Glos. GL8 8YF. Tel. 01453 860356 www.thelavenderg.co.uk
  • Longstock Park Nursery, Longstock, Stockbridge, Hants. SO20 6EH. Tel. 01264 810894 www.longstocknursery.co.uk
  • Paignton Zoo, Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon TQ4 7EU. Tel. 01803 697529 www.paigntonzoo.org.uk
  • The Shapcott Barton Estate, East Knowstone, South Molton, Devon EX36 4EE. Tel. 01398 341664

List of Buddleja species and naturally occurring hybrids[edit]

The many species of Buddleja have been the subject of much taxonomic contention. The listing below includes the names, still prevalent in horticulture, of many former Asiatic species sunk by the late Toon Leeuwenberg as Buddleja crispa and adopted as such in the definitive Flora of China.[9][10][11]

Formerly placed here[edit]


List of Buddleja cultivars and artificial hybrids[edit]

A large number of hybrids and cultivars, predominantly of B. davidii, has been raised in nurseries on both sides of the Atlantic:

RHS Award of Garden Merit[edit]

The following Buddleja species and cultivars are (2017) holders of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

See also[edit]


Asiatic and African species[edit]

  • Leeuwenberg, A. J. M. (1979) The Loganiaceae of Africa XVIII Buddleja L. II, Revision of the African & Asiatic species. H. Veenman & Zonen, Wageningen, Nederland.

North and South American species[edit]

  • Norman, E. (2000). Buddlejaceae. Flora Neotropica, Vol. 81. New York Botanical Garden, USA. ISSN 0071-5794

Cultivated species and cultivars[edit]

  • Stuart, D. (2006). Buddlejas. RHS Plant Collector Guide. Timber Press, Oregon, USA. ISBN 978-0-88192-688-0


  1. ^ "Buddleja L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  2. ^ "Genus Buddleja L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 20 April 2006. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Buddleja". The Plant List. Version 1.1. 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  4. ^ Linnaei, C. (1753). Species plantarum. Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm.
  5. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F. R.; Buck, W. R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D. L.; Herendeen, P. S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Prud'homme van Reine, W. F.; Smith, G. F.; Wiersma, J. H. & Turland, N. J., eds. (2012), International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code), Adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011 (electronic ed.), Bratislava: International Association for Plant Taxonomy, retrieved 20 December 2012.
  6. ^ Stevens, P.F. (2001–2012), "Scrophulariaceae", Angiosperm Phylogeny Website
  7. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Buddleia".
  8. ^ van de Weyer, William (1920). "Buddleja weyeriana". Gardeners' Chronicle. 3, 68: 181.
  9. ^ "Buddleja". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  10. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Buddleja". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 20 January 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  11. ^ Norman, E. (2000). Buddlejaceae. Flora Neotropica, Vol. 81. New York Botanical Garden, USA.

External links[edit]