Today we focus on Buddleja saligna, more commonly known as the False olive.  This versatile tree is very suited to smaller gardens and will provide beauty, protection and screening in your environment.

Classified as a large shrub or small tree, the evergreen tree will reach a height of between 3 and 10 m, depending on environmental conditions.  It is widespread throughout South Africa and naturally occurs in the bushveld, dry forest margins and wooded grasslands.

The stem of the tree is fluted or twisted with pale grey-brown bark that appears flaking and fissured.  The crown is much-branched and has a drooping habit.  Leaves have a long, narrow shape – reminiscent of the olive tree, hence the common name of ‘False olive’.  However, Buddleja saligna’s foliage is more textured with a hairless, dark green top surface and a pale, whitish underside.  From a distance the tree has a greyish, silver appearance due to the pale underside that shows when the wind is blowing.

Tiny, white to cream coloured flowers appear in dense clusters during spring and summer.  The blooms are carried on the ends of the branches and have a honey-like fragrance, attracting insects and birds to the garden.  The flowers produce large amounts of pollen and nectar, making it an ideal tree for bee farmers.  Tiny seeds develop in the dried flowers from October to March.

Buddleja saligna is very hardy and can adapt to different soil types.  It has a non-aggressive root system and is often used as a pioneer tree in younger gardens as it is fast growing.  Drought resistant and frost hardy, the False Olive is a wise choice for any garden.