Buddleja salviifolia (L). Lam.

Family name: Buddlejaceae
Common names:

Buddleja salviifolia

Buddleja was named in honor of the Rev. Adam Buddle, an English botanist of the 17th century. The species name 'salviifolia' refers to the leaves that resemble those of Salvia farinacea.

This shrub is widespread and common in from the Western Cape through the Eastern Cape to Free State, Lesotho, Kwazulu Natal, Swaziland, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Mozambique, Zimbabwe to tropical Africa. It grows naturally in forest margins, rocky hillsides and along stream banks on the escarpment.

Buddleja salviifoliaBuddleja salviifolia is a semi-evergreen bushy shrub that grows up to 4m high under favorable conditions. Its leaves are dark green and conspicuously wrinkled and puckered above, densely covered with whitish or brown hairs below. Leaves can be broadly or narrowly long. Masses of small, white to lilac blooms are borne in large panicles. The flowers are sweetly scented and vary in colour from dull to clear white to almost true purple. Flowering occurs from August to October (spring).

Buddleja salviifolia attracts many insects such as bees, butterflies and birds. In a garden design sagewood is useful as a framework or background plant. It is very decorative when in flower. If pruned often, it makes an excellent hedge. Besides its use in horticulture, this plant has other economic uses. Its leaves are browsed by game. Fresh and dried leaves make an aromatic herbal tea. A decoction of roots provides a remedy for cough and for relief of colic while an infusion of the leaves is applied as an eye lotion.

Growing Buddleia salviifolia

Sagewood can be propagated easily from seeds and cuttings. The fastest way of propagation is through cuttings. Hardwood cuttings can be taken during the active phase of growth and must be treated with a root stimulating hormone powder. Cuttings should be planted in washed river sand and kept moist for three to four weeks. Rooted cuttings can be planted in nursery bags in a well-drained growth media. Young plants must be protected from frost for the first season whereas well established sagewood can withstand frost and drought. Sagewood grows easily in any soil, but adding compost will give better results.

Seven species of Buddleja occur in southern Africa. They are B. auriculata, B. dysophylla, B. glomerata, B. loricata, B. pulchella, B. saligna and B. salviifolia.

  • List of references:
  • Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P.1997. Field guide to the trees of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape town.
  • Venter, F & Venter, J-A. 1996. Making the most of indigenous trees. Briza, Pretoria.
  • Joffe, P. 1993. Gardener's guide to South African plants. Tafelberg, Cape Town

By T.T. Mutshinyalo
Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden
July 2001

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