A lovely strong fragrance filling the air tells you that Buddleja
auriculata, the evergreen weeping sage has anticipated spring
long before you have- it comes as a real surprise in the middle
This shrub or small tree has beautiful glossy foliage: its leaves
are deep-green above and silver below. Profuse spikes of tiny, tubular,
sweetly-scented cream, orange or lilac flowers appear in July (mid-winter)
to September (spring) on the ends of the 'weeping' branches. The
fruit is a tiny, creamy brown capsule that splits at the tip (June
This shrub occurs naturally on mountain slopes, in rocky ravines,
and on forest margins, from Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe.
The genus is named after the Rev. Adam Buddle (1660-1715), an English
botanist, and auriculata means having an ear-like appendage
and refers to the stipule between the leaves which resembles a small
ear. There are seven species of Buddleja in South Africa.
They are mostly shrubby and can sometimes become small trees. Among
those making good garden plants are Buddleja
saligna and Buddleja salvifolia
The flowers attract many butterflies and other insects, which in
turn become food for insectivorous birds like the southern boubou
and Cape robin.
Growing Buddleja auriculata
plant is easily propagated from hardwood cuttings. Shapely and graceful
(4 × 4 m) Buddleja auriculata looks particularly attractive
planted near water, perhaps next to a large dam or pond. The thick
foliage could provide safe shelter for birds. Use it in a large
mixed shrub border, or to form a screen, or as an informal hedge.
It is suitable for medium to large gardens, any place that can accommodate
its spread. This plant performs well in the Pretoria area, forming
a neatish, dense, weeping shrub, but it does not fare as well in
the Lowveld. It grows well in the Western Cape too, often flowering
earlier and growing more upright.
Frost- and drought-resistant, this fast-growing shrub will probably
grow well in most soils, but add plenty of compost and fertilizer
(slow-release 3:2:1 or 3:1:5), and water regularly, for better results.
Give less water in winter (June to end August). It tolerates pruning
well, but this is usually unnecessary if enough room has been allowed
for it to spread comfortably. A little shade will not be a problem,
but it prefers a sunny spot. It can handle temperatures ranging
from about -5°C to 38°C.
- COATES-PALGRAVE, K. 1988. Trees of southern Africa, edn
2. Struik, Cape Town.
- JOFFE, P. 2001. Creative gardening with indigenous plants-a
South African guide. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- PALMER, E. & PITMAN, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa.
Balkema, Cape Town.
- POOLEY, E. 1993. The complete guide to trees of Natal, Zululand
and Transkei. Natal Flora Publications Trust.
- VAN WYK, B. & VAN WYK, P. 1997. Field guide to the trees
of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
Pretoria National Botanical Garden