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Second only to Japanese knotweed, Buddleia is probably the best-known invasive plant/weed in the UK.  Brought to the UK from China over 100 years ago, It is sometimes said to be beneficial to wildlife as it is very attractive to butterflies, but this is only true for the adults because there are no native species that lay their eggs on buddleia or use it as a food source for caterpillars.  

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How to identify Buddleia

Buddleia can be hard to spot when a seedling, but after only a few years it grows into the characteristic small woody shrub many of us know.  It has long, narrow, spear-shaped leaves with serrated edges and, if you look very closely, you will find very fine hairs on the underside.

In late summer it produces lots of drooping spikes of densely clustered, small, purple (or sometimes white) flowers that sometimes have a 'honey like' or 'peppery fragrance. The smell is part of the reason why it is popular with insects.

Buddleia - growing by window - PCA

Buddleia - growing out of a Factory wall - PCA

Buddleia - growing out of a wall - PCA

Why Buddleia is a problem

Buddleia can spread rapidly via seed dispersal.  It grows well (as a pioneer species) on brownfield sites and on masonry due to its tolerance of lime mortars and concrete.  

In severe cases, buddleia roots can colonise masonry walls making them somewhat unstable and a potential danger as well as blocking gutters and causing rainwater to penetrate walls.

Buddleia and the law

Whilst Buddleia can and does cause a lot of damage when allowed to grow uncontrolled, this species remains un-scheduled under the Wildlife & Countryside Act or any other devolved or EU legislation. As a consequence, the decision whether to manage the spread of buddleia (or not) is a personal one to make. 

Controlling & managing Buddleia

For a woody plant buddleia is quite a fast growing species, but is usually quite easy to control as long as access is possible.  Being a woody shrub it may be possible to just cut the main stem and treat the stump to prevent re-growth but if access is difficult it can also be controlled with herbicides applied by spray.

Concerned about Buddleia? There are professionals you can talk to

If you have come across Buddleia and you are concerned, there are professionals that can help. 

Most specialist PCA invasive weed members will be happy to offer advice and guidance over the phone and, if you have pictures, will be happy to help identify and make initial assessments of the severity of the problem.

To find local PCA invasive weed specialists near you, simply run a search using the search tool below.

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