The Butterfly Bush ( Scientific name :Buddleja davidii) is a beautiful flowering shrub with its origins in the mountains of China.

Bushels of flowers adorn the bush and it forms a splendid natural boundary to the gardens of the JW Marriott Hotel in Mussoorie, located in the lap of the Himalayas.

the hedge or the border of the garden
                                       the hedge or the border of the garden

The sweet fragrance of the abundant flowers attract bees and butterflies in droves and hence the name BUTTERFLY BUSH.

The lavender coloured flowers also give it an alias, THE LILAC BUSH.

A basque missionary of the 19th century Father Arthur David lends his name to this profusely flowering bush. ( scientific name Buddleja davidii)  

butterfly bush
                                                                  Butterfly bush

Found naturally in the mountainous zones of China the butterfly bush has  flowers in several colours , however I was witness to two colours, lilac and white.

On close observation you will see the flowers have an orange centre and  hence the shrub  is also called ORANGE EYE.

orange eye
                                                                  Orange eye

With drop dead looks and the sweetest of fragrances, the deceptive Butterfly Bush is now classified as a NOXIOUS WEED in many countries where it was introduced in the 19th century.

The rapidly growing bush spreads quickly and the profuse number of flowers ensures the plant a steady supply of seeds for self propagation.

The shrub grows back quickly even if cut from the stump and the seeds can lie dormant in the ground for several years. The shrub further ensures it’s survival as the male and female flowers occur on the same plant.

It has become an Invasive weed in countries like New Zealand and United Kingdom where they have been compelled to introduce a leaf-chewing beetle Cleopus japonicus as a biological control agent.

sweet fragrance
                                                       Sweet fragrance of the Lilac Bush

Recalling an old saying ” LOOKS ARE DECEPTIVE”, we should be careful what plants we introduce in our gardens as unknowngly we can upset a delicate ecosystem.

If we plant trees and plants ENDEMIC to the region it will ensure the survival of native species as well.


Published by

mukul chand

51 year old entrepreneur who has traveled extensively around the world for work and pleasure , is based in New Delhi, India. A passionate traveler born with a love for flora and fauna, is an active naturalist and amateur photographer. Here he shares his unique insight into Incredible India revealing its mysterious and exotic treasures. Writing from his heart he shares his experiences as he crisscrosses this vast and amazing land.

31 thoughts on “THE BUTTERFLY BUSH”

  1. Here in the UK it can be a bit of a pest, but is quite easy to eradicate, unlike some of the more stubborn weeds that have made their way here, such as Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam. We aways allow one to grow in our garden each year, precisely because of the large numbers of butterflies and bees that it attracts.

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    1. It is a beautiful plant. I love hearing that the butterflies come in droves. I can’t remember how many years it has been since I’ve seen a butterfly. At least in the part of Seattle I live in, they are gone. I will be going to India later in the month and know I will see some butterflies there!

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      1. Butterfly populations had been greatly reduced in northeast Ohio too; specifically monarchs. But this past summer/early fall I saw significantly more monarchs than in the past two years. Hopefully populations will start to rebound near you too.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.The information I had was that it is difficult to eradicate, so what you say is a relief. I was going to post on the Himalayan balsam too, what colour do you usually see?


      1. Most of it is pink, although you get occasional white flowers. The only truly effective way of getting rid of it that I know of is to pull it up by hand before it flowers. Very labour intensive, unfortunately.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice article. The flowers of the Butterfly Bush (BB) are beautiful. I had a surreal encounter with a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly a few years ago and it changed my life—literally! I even wrote a novel “If Tigers Were Angels” that tells the story of how a Tiger changed a man’s life. I don’t see Tigers very often, but I recently visited a relative who had a huge BB in her yard. I was shocked when I saw twelve Tigers on the BB; it was like heaven on earth! At that point I knew I had to have a BB in my yard, so I bought one. I placed the BB container in my yard and planned to plant it in a week or so. Before I could get it planted, a Tiger came to visit, then another, and another… Talk about being impressed—I was! Can’t wait to see how many Tigers (Angels) come to visit me next season. The BB definitely attracts butterflies, and I am thankful I now have one. I also noticed that Karuna’s profile photo is that of a Tiger—how cool is that!?!

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  3. Saw your title and wondered if the bush in India was called by the same name as the bush that I planted here in Arizona. It is. I planted it when it was only about a foot high and have been training it into a tree ever since. I do have to keep up with the little shoots that grow out all around it. The plant wants to wander, but is easy to control with very little effort. The flowers on my tree are violet and attracts a ton of butterflies and bees just as you say. It’s beautiful and gives excellent shade for my window. For me, it’s a keeper.

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    1. Great to read your comments, loved to learn that it attracts bees and butterflies in America as well.. The Butterfly Bush has many species native to the Americas. I think close to 100 types. Do check up wikipedia too . Most of India is too warm for them, thus I was happy to see them in the Himalayas.

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  4. I have one butterfly bush in my garden, and so far there haven’t been any problems with it spreading. But you said in the comment above that there are many BB species in the Americas, and I’m not sure which one is in my garden. Perhaps it’s a variety that doesn’t spread so easily. Your words still ring true though: we should be careful about which species we bring to certain areas.

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