Butterfly-bush (Buddleja davidii)

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Butterfly-bush in flower
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Butterfly-bush fact file

Butterfly-bush description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderScrophulariales
FamilyBuddlejaceae
GenusBuddleja (1)

This large shrub is so called because it is visited by large numbers of butterflies and moths, as it is an extremely good source of nectar (2). Indeed, the spread of this plant may have been the single factor responsible for the maintenance of many urban butterfly populations (4). The butterfly-bush has dark green lance-shaped leaves, which are white on the undersides. The purple flowers are densely arranged in flower spikes (2).

Also known as
Buddleia.
Size
Flower spike length: 10-30 cm (2)
Leaf length: 10-25 cm (2)
Height: 1-5 m (2)
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Butterfly-bush biology

This deciduous shrub has spread so well throughout Britain because the light seeds are winged and have extremely good powers of dispersal. The railways have acted as corridors for dispersal, from which the species has spread outwards (4). In more southerly areas it often forms very dense shrubberies (4).

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Butterfly-bush range

First introduced to Britain from China in the 1890s, the butterfly-bush has since spread throughout much of Britain, with the exception of most of the far north of Scotland (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Butterfly-bush habitat

Although still popular in gardens, this species has escaped from cultivation and is now a common feature of waste ground, roadsides and railways, quarries and a range of urban habitats. It shows a preference for dry and disturbed sites (3).

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Butterfly-bush status

A widespread introduced species (3).

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Butterfly-bush threats

This introduced species is not threatened.

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Butterfly-bush conservation

Not relevant.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
http://www.plantlife.org.uk/
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:
http://www.bsbi.org.uk

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Deciduous
A plant that sheds its leaves at the end of the growing season.
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References

  1. National Biodivresity Network Species Dictionary (Feb 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.
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Image credit

Butterfly-bush in flower  
Butterfly-bush in flower

© Mike Birkhead / gettyimages.com

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