The false olive, Buddleja saligna, is a very hardy evergreen tree characterised by a much-branched crown and drooping branches. Buddleja saligna can reach a height of 5m, 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 and narrow, 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 flowers appear in a clustered manner on axils 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.
Its distribution stretches from the Western Cape to Limpopo. Buddleja saligna is a common tree in dry, deciduous woodlands especially along drainage lines.
Buddleja saligna is a very hardy, evergreen, fast growing, drought resistant small tree or larger shrub for a small indigenous gardens in Gauteng - especially if you are aiming at creating a living landscape with a high biodiversity. It grows up to 800 mm per year.
In the larger garden Buddleja saligna can be used as a screen plant, hedge or windbreak. It responds well to clipping and is useful as a pioneer tree for a new forest garden. It will grow in most soils but added compost will improve performance. It may need cutting back after flowering to keep tidy. The false olive does not have an aggressive root system.
This tree has also been reported to behave medicinal properties - for instance, the leaves can be used to treat coughs and colds and the roots are used as a purgative.
The large amounts of pollen and nectar it produces makes it popular with bee farmers.
You may find stock of this plant at Random Harvest.