Buddleja salvifolia, the sagewood, is not only a very attractive plant, it is also one of our cold hardiest, able to withstand cold down to -14 degrees Celsius.
- Buddleja – named after the Rev. Adam Buddle (1660 – 1715) an English amateur botanist and vicar of Farnham, Essex.
- salvifolia – leaves like those of a salvia (sage).
Common Names: Sagewood, (Eng), saliehout (Afr), molalathau (Nso), lelothoane (Sso), umbatancwepe (Swa), modiaṱholana (Ven), igqange (Xho) & ilothane (Zul).
FSA Number: 637 Zim Number: 836
- A large shrub or small evergreen tree, often multi-stemmed.
- Branches often droop, giving the plant a soft, feminine look.
Size: 3 – 4 m (–8 m) by 3 – 4 m.
- The small flowers are borne in attractive, tight sprays at the ends of branches.
- Each flower is a narrow tube about 12 mm
- Flowers are sweetly scented and are white, cream, lilac or purple.
- Flowering in late winter, the smell is one associated with our Highveld winter
Colour: White, cream, lilac or purple.
Fragrance: Sweetly fragrant.
- Leaves are simple, opposite, lanceolate, quite wrinkly above.
- Leaves are silvery-grey to dark green above and whitish to rusty, often hairy, below.
- There is seldom a petiole, the leaf base wrapped around the stem.
- The midrib and net-venation are prominent on the lower surface.
Thorns: No thorns.
Fruit: Small capsule between Oct and Dec.
The flowers may be white, cream, pink, lilac or purple, but the flower centers are always yellow.
- Bark on older branches red-brown.
- Young branchlets and shoots covered with white or grey woolly hair, the branchlets are often square.
- Buddleja salvifolia is an excellent, fast growing, extremely cold hardy large shrub.
- With its grey-green to dark green leaves it will add a contrasting colour to a garden.
- It flowers at the end of winter, adding colour and fragrance when not much else is flowering.
- It grows happily in most soil types, including very wet, marshy soil.
- A good pioneer plant for stabilizing stream, dam and water furrow embankments.
- May be grown and pruned into a hedge or used as an informal screen.
- A good wildlife friendly plant, attracting insects and birds to a garden.
- Popular as a bonsai subject.
- Fast growing, up to metre or more in a year.
A large shrub or small tree, Buddleja salvifolia is often multi-stemmed and has pendulous branches, so the plant looks soft and feminine.
Some plants have pastel pink flowers.
The African Leopard butterfly (Phalanta-phalantha-aethiopica) larvae feed on Buddleja salvifolia. Many adult butterflies feed from the flowers.
Soil Needs: Almost any soil, but best in a fertile soil.
- A low maintenance plant.
- Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
- Protect young plants against cold.
Cold Hardiness: Very cold hardy.
Water Requirements: Drought hardy, but thrives on regular summer water.
Light Requirements: Full sun but will grow partial shade.
Roots: The roots are quite aggressive.
- Insect-eating birds are attracted to the insects that visit these shrubs.
- Buddleja salvifolia is host to the larva of the African Leopard butterfly.
- The flowers attract many adult butterflies, especially the Painted Lady, and bees.
- A root decoction is used to treat coughs and colic.
- An eye lotion is made from an infusion of the leaves.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- A pioneer tree that indicates areas that would become forested were it not for fires.
- A tea made from fresh or dried leaves is drunk with some honey but no milk.
- The leaves are browsed by game.
Buddleja salvifolia is a pioneer plant and often indicates areas that would be forested if it were not for regular fires.
- Found in the WC, EC, Les, KZN, Swa, M, FS, NWP, G, L, western Moz and eastern Zim.
- Its range extends northwards into Tanzania.
- Grasslands, fynbos, Nama-Karoo, forests, savanna-bushveld and thickets.
- Occurs along water courses and riverine fringes, forest margins and on mountain slopes.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.