The false olive is a very hardy evergreen tree characterised with a much-branched crown and drooping branches. Its distribution stretches from the Western Cape in South Africa to Zimbabwe. Buddleja saligna is a common tree in dry, deciduous woodlands especially along drainage lines.
It is classified as a small tree which can reach a mature height of 10m depending on prevailing growing conditions. Leaves of this tree are dark green, opposite and simple with a smooth upper surface and a dense venation on the lower surface. The leaves are also long, narrow shaped resembling the olive tree, hence the common name ‘False olive’. The stem of the tree is twisted with pale grey-brown bark that appears flaking and fissured. The flowering period stretches from August to January and the blooms appear in a clustered manner on exils of upper leaves. The flowers produce lots of pollen and nectar, making it an important tree in bee farming. Tiny seeds develop in the dried flowers from October to March. The fruit of this tree is an ovoid capsule about 2mm long, pale yellowish-brown when mature.
Buddleja saligna is fast growing and responds well to pruning, this tree can be used for hedging and screening. When in flower, it creates a superb focal point in the garden. Roots of B. saligna are not aggressive, making it suitable for planting near buildings and pools. This tree has also been reported to be medicinal for instance, the leaves can be used to treat coughs and colds and the roots are used as a purgative.