Invasive Plant

Butterfly bush

Buddleja davidii

About This Species

Butterfly bush is a semi-evergreen shrub that grows up to 5 m tall. This attractive, fast growing plant has escaped gardens and now rapidly spreads into disturbed, open areas and along coastal forest edges, roadsides, and especially on sunny stream edges and riverbanks where it replaces native plants. Butterfly bush produces lots of seeds and a single flower bunch can produce over 40,000 seeds. Seeds are spread by wind and water and can still grow after being in the soil for many years.

How to Identify

Butterfly bush can grow up to 5 m tall with 25 cm long, green-silver leaves and very showy long, pointed, spike-shaped light purple to dark purple bunches of tiny flowers. If you look closely the center of each tiny flower is typically bright orange. Butterflies are often attracted to its flowers.

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Take Action

Removing Butterfly bush is best done when it first comes into flower but has not yet produced seeds. Small plants can be easily hand-pulled when the soil is moist. Remove larger bushes by cutting the plant at the base. Dig up the roots, then cover the rootstock with a thick plastic bag, or mulch to prevent regeneration. Remove new shoots until the rootstock dies. Do not leave stems on the ground, or they may root.

Plantwise

Plantwise

Learn about best practices

A few non-invasive alternatives to plant instead of Butterfly bush include:

  • Lewis's mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • Red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
  • Meyer lilac (Syringa meyeri)
  • California lilac (Ceanothus spp. and hybrids)
  • Blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)

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