Named in honour of an amateur botanist Rev Adam Buddle, Buddleja saligna is an evergreen tree characterised with long narrow willow-like leaves. This fast growing tree can reach a mature height of 10m when growing conditions are favourable. Its growth rate is up to 800mm per year. Distribution of this tree stretches from Zimbabwe in the North to Western Cape in the South. The False olive is a common tree in dry deciduous woodlands especially along drainage lines.
Leaves of Buddleja saligna resemble those of the Olive tree from which it gets its common name. The upper surface of the leaf is hairless and dark green while the underside is whitish with raised venation. When young, stems of this tree are four angled and covered with velvety hairs. As the tree matures, the stems become grey to dark grey with bark peeling in longitudinal strips. During Spring and Summer, tiny white to cream coloured flowers appear on the tree in dense clusters. These blooms are borne on branch ends and have a honey-like fragrance, attracting insects and birds to the garden. This makes it a good option for bee farming as the mass of flowers produce large amounts of nectar and pollen.
Although the False olive tends to become very untidy and woody after a season or two after planting, it can be pruned into a beautiful tree or shaped as well for hedging purposes. When in flower, this tree makes a stunning focal point in the park or garden. It does not have an invasive root system and can be planted near buildings and pools without any fear of damage.
The False olive is very drought and frost resistant and is always a winner in any garden, even in frost prone areas.