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Butterfly bush is magnet for pollinators

Saying that the Butterfly bush (Buddleia) is a magnet for pollinators is an understatement. It’s no wonder that The National Garden Bureau has declared 2024 the year of the Buddleia.

In Oregon, Buddleia davidii was taken off the market in 2008 because of its invasive nature, but the Oregon Department of Agriculture has approved varieties for sale in Oregon that are seedless. The seedless forms have common names like Summer Lilac, Nectar Bush, Seedless Buddleia, or Seedless Butterfly Bush, according to Portland Nursery’s website.

The plant’s prolific sweet-smelling flower spikes are like tasty landing pads for butterflies and bees, other beneficial insects, and hummingbirds, making the plant a centerpiece of many pollinator gardens.

It was Swedish botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus who named this species after Adam Buddle, an 18th-century English botanist, according to The National Garden Bureau. Buddleia plants are native to Asia, Africa, and the Americas and are available in over 140 species.

The flowers of Buddleia are different across species. Most produce panicles consisting of many individual tubular flowers for easy nectar access for beneficial insects and birds.

Buddleia flowers come in a variety of colors including white, blue, lavender, pink, reddish pink, purple, and yellow. Gardeners can plant caterpillar host plants with Buddleia to provide food for the butterfly lava and when they emerge as butterflies, they’ve got a ready source of food for their next stage in life.

Given the moniker of Butterfly Bush, it is expected that this plant would attract some butterflies to the garden. Yet, that is a drastic understatement. Buddleias are, in fact, butterfly MAGNETS, drawing a wide range of butterfly and other pollinator species to them with their plethora of sweet-smelling flowers. So much so, that many butterfly gardens are designed around Buddleia as the core element to support these beautiful creatures. In peak bloom Butterfly Bush can become a joyous source of entertainment — transforming the shrub into a mesmerizing real-life GIF animation while the pollinators move from one nectar-rich flower to the next.

Overview and History

Buddleia has a history as a symbol of resurrection, rebirth, and new beginnings. Sporting a lesser-known nickname of “bombsite bush,” this amazing plant is known for thriving in the toughest environments — even in the rubble of war-torn lands. In post-World War II Europe, Buddleia was known for springing to life from amidst debris, offering communities a sign of hope.

It was Swedish botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus who named this species after Adam Buddle, an 18th-century English botanist. Buddleia plants are endemic to Asia, Africa, and the Americas and are available in over 140 species. Most are shrubs growing to less than 16 ft. tall, but some species qualify as trees. The flower forms of Buddleia are different across species from various continents. Most produce panicles consisting of many individual tubular flowers for easy nectar access for beneficial insects and birds.

 

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