Buddleja salviifolia

Common Name: South African sage wood 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Native Range: Southern and eastern Africa
Zone: 8 to 11
Height: 12.00 to 26.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 26.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: White to lilac
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Dry Soil


Easily grown in medium to dry, average soils in full sun. Tolerates many soil types, including dry soils, but does best in well-draining conditions. Hardy from Zones 8-11. In the St. Louis climate, it is best to use this plant as an annual. Can be easily propagated from cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Buddleja salviifolia, commonly known as South African sage wood, is a large shrub or multi-stemmed tree native to rocky hillsides, forest margins, and riparian areas throughout southern and eastern Africa. Where hardy, this evergreen shrub typically reaches heights of 12' (in ideal conditions up to 26') and has a spread equally as wide. The leaves are narrow with a slightly pointed tip, dark green above and covered in tiny white hairs below, with prominent, puckered veins. Masses of cone-shaped flowering panicles emerge in spring, each around 5" long and 3" wide at the base. The panicles are made up of small, tubular, white to lilac colored, and strongly fragrant flowers which attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insect pollinators. This plant has a fast rate of growth and tends to have a semi-weeping habit.

Genus name honors the Reverend Adam Buddle (1660-1715), English botanist and vicar of Farmbridge in Essex.

The genus name is frequently listed today as Buddleia. However, Linnaeus named the genus Buddleja (pronounced with a silent “j”) which is still considered to be the proper spelling (first name survives) according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

The specific epithet salviifolia refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of many sages (Salvia sp.).


No major insect pests or disease problems have been reported. Must be pruned heavily to maintain shape. Should be protected from frost during the first year of growth.


Where hardy, use as a fast growing windbreak where it will have plenty of room to expand, or plant in a more naturalized part of the garden. If using in a sunny, mixed border garden or pollinator garden, keep well pruned to prevent this shrub from overtaking surrounding plantings, and also to increase reblooming.