Butterfly-bush (Buddleja davidii)

Also known as: Buddleia
GenusBuddleja (1)
SizeFlower spike length: 10-30 cm (2)
Leaf length: 10-25 cm (2)
Height: 1-5 m (2)

A widespread introduced species (3).

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).

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).

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).

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).

This introduced species is not threatened.

Not relevant.

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:

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

  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.