Buddleja madagascariensis Lam.

Synonyms - Nicodemia madagascariensis

Often spelled as Buddleia.

Family: - Buddlejaceae


Buddleja commemorates the Rev. Adam Buddle.

Madagascariensis is Latin for Madagascar, its place of origin.

Other Names:

Butterfly bush because it attracts butterflies.

Summer Lilac because it flowers in summer and the fragrant flowers resemble those of the Lilacs.


A deciduous, fast growing, rather rangy, perennial shrub up to 5 m round with fragrant, sprays of orange to yellow, nectar producing flowers that attract butterflies. The leaves are a velvety grey green on top and furry underneath.




First leaves:


Opposite. spreading

Stipules - Reduced to an inconspicuous line between the petioles.

Petiole - 15-20 mm long.

Blade - Elliptical, 70-200 mm long by 25-80 mm wide, finely toothed or smooth edges. Tip pointed. Hairless on top when mature, white furry underneath with star shaped hairs.


Up to 5000 mm long.

Young shoots covered in soft, woolly, star shaped hairs.

Flower stem - usually branched.

Sapwood is ring or diffuse porous.

Flower head:

Many flowered, dense panicle up to 100-300 mm long (often with several branches) at the ends of branches or in leaf axils near the ends of branches. Flowers are clustered on short lateral branches. Bracts are linear and usually shorter than the flowers. Star shaped hairs.


Strongly sweet scented, attract butterflies, 5 mm diameter, almost stalkless. Dense star shaped hairs on the outside.

Ovary - 2 celled. Many seeds. Densely hairy in the top half with star shaped hairs.

Style - Single, 5 mm long. Densely hairy in the lower half with star shaped hairs.

Calyx - 3 mm long with 4 shallowly triangular lobes, 0.1-1 mm long

Petals - Tubular, orange to yellow-orange, 7 mm long overall with a tube 2-4 mm long by 1.5 mm diameter and 2-4 mm long lobes. Hairless inside.

Stamens - 4. Inserted just inside the corolla tube, alternate with the petals.

Anthers - 1 mm long, sub sessile, 2 celled, cleft at the base. Release pollen by a lengthwise slit inwards.


Egg shaped capsule, 2-2.5 mm long, hairless.


Small. Not recorded in Australia.


Key Characters:

Orange flowers.

Straggling shrub

Mature leaves hairless on top, furry underneath

Leaves stellate hairy, opposite, cauline.

Stem stellate hairy

Inflorescence with stellate hairs

Peduncle not winged

Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual

Ovary superior, comprised of connate carpels appearing to be a single carpel.

Calyx connate into a tube for at least half its length, 4 lobed

Petals connate into a corolla tube, yellow orange

4 stamens

Adapted from B.L. Rye Flora of Perth.


Life cycle:

Perennial shrub.



Vegetative. No seed set recorded in Australia (Stock, 1999).

Flowering times:

July to August, January and April in WA

December to February in NZ.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

It does not usually sucker unless the roots have been cut or damaged.

It will spread by layering or tip rooting.



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.

Origin and History:

From Madagascar.

Introduced as an ornamental. It has escaped from gardens and naturalised in South Australia and Western Australia.


ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, WA. New Zealand, USA.

In WA it is naturalised in Kings Park in Perth, the Jarrah forest and Swan coastal Plain.



Temperate to tropical.


Prefers limestone soils, grey sands over limestone and loam over laterite.

Plant Associations:





Invasive weed of riparian zones in the USA.

Weed of disturbed areas, waterways, hedgerows and roadsides.

Spreads quickly.


Related to toxic plants.





Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

It can usually be removed manually quite successfully if the stump and main roots are also removed. Cut roots will re shoot.

For larger plants, cut them off at the base and paint the cut stump with neat glyphosate. Smaller plants may be sprayed overall with glyphosate.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Buddleja davidii Is invasive in NZ.

Buddleja lindleyana is invasive in the USA.

Buddleja asiatica is invasive in the USA.

Buddleja globosa does not appear to be highly invasive in the USA but is invasive in NZ.

Buddleja dyssophylla has white flowers.

The bark of Strychnos, a related species, is used to extract curare and other toxins used on the tips of poison arrows in South America

Plants of similar appearance:

Buddleja dyssophylla has white flowers.


Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P122. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). 156.2.

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P570.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P189.

Randall, J.M. and Marinelli, J. (1996) Invasive Plants. (Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Inc. Brooklyn). P48. Photo.

Roy, B., Popay, I., Champion, P., James, T. and Rahman, A. (1998). An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand. (New Zealand Plant Protection Society). P106.


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