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Buddleia farreri Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

Modern name

Buddleja tibetica W.W.Sm.


B. tibetica var. farreri (Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.) Marquand.

A deciduous shrub 6 to 10 ft high; young shoots covered with a soft white felt. Uppermost leaves ovate with a shallowly heart-shaped base, those lower on the shoot truncate or more or less tapered at the base; pointed, coarsely and irregularly toothed at the margin; very variable in size according to the vigour of the plant, 3 to 12 in. long, 112 to 4 in. wide; dull dark green and ultimately glabrous above, covered with white felt beneath; stalk up to 2 in. long, sometimes winged by an extension of the blade down each side. Flowers rose-lilac, produced in April in woolly-stalked inflorescences 112 to 3 in. long from the terminal joints of the previous year’s shoots, the whole forming a panicle up to 8 in. long. The corolla has a very slender tube 13 in. long; it is scarcely 14 in. wide across the four rounded lobes; stamens inserted about the middle of the corolla tube. Calyx narrowly cylindrical, 316 in. long, covered with white wool. Bot. Mag., t. 9027.

Native of Kansu, China; introduced by Farrer in 1915. It has proved hardy in a sheltered nook at Kew and there are bushes 10 ft high and as much wide. Its flowers are liable to be injured by spring frosts and, being formed in autumn, may be lost in the bud-stage during hard winters. It can be grown on a wall or in a large pot out-of-doors during summer, autumn, and winter, taking it under cover to flower. It makes quite a pleasant picture but, so far as I have been able to observe, it has scarcely justified as yet in this country the somewhat ecstatic description given of it by its introducer. According to him it ‘hugs only the very hottest and driest crevices, cliffs, walls, and banks down the most arid and torrid aspects of the Ha Shin Fang’, from which it would appear to need all the warmth and direct sunlight we can give it. It is probable that lack of these may prevent it from ever making so beautiful a display with us as it does at home, although it sets flower freely after a hot summer. Like many plants from arid habitats, it is best suited in the eastern counties.

B. tibetica W. W. Sm. – A close ally of the preceding, from which it may be distinguished by the greyish indumentum that covers the upper surface of the leaves. Flowers purple, fading to white, borne in March-April in dense globose clusters. A native of Tibet, introduced by Lord Wigram in 1931 as “B. hastata”. It is hardy, and more decorative as a garden specimen than B. farreri but, like it, flowers dangerously early in the spring. Its strikingly gaunt habit is well shown in the photograph reproduced in Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 72, 1947, fig. 168.

The two buddleias described above are discussed by A. D. Cotton in Journ. R.H.S., ibid., pp. 427-35.



Other species in the genus