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© Gilles San Martin
© Etienne Branquart
© Etienne Branquart
© Sarah Brunel, EPPO
Buddleja davidii - Butterfly bush

French name:  Arbre aux papillons
Dutch name: Vlinderstruik
Family: Buddlejaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: Asia
Habitat: terrestrial
Introduction:  agri- and horticulture
ISEIA Score : 10
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1930
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: widespread
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: medium
More on invasiveness: This deciduous shrub mostly thrives in various ruderal areas and disturbed grounds (e.g. railway embankments, fallow lands and sand quarries), but also in warm semi-natural habitats with well-drained soils like gravel shores, dunes or rock outcrops. The small and winged seeds can be carried great distances by the wind, water, and occasionally by cars. Climate change is likely to trigger higher invasiveness in Europe during the next decades.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
grasslands: 6110*61306210*
rocky habitats: 8160*8210
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: high
Disease transmission: low
Genetic effects: low
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: medium
Physical alteration: likely
Natural successions: medium
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: Due to its strong dispersion potential, its high resource utilisation efficiency compared to native species and its ability to quickly form dense monospecific populations, the butterfly bush accelerates and dominate early successions and displaces native pioneer species living in open and sunny habitats. It also impedes the growth and reproduction of other species of trees and shrubs and is able to outcompete Betula pendula on nitrogen-poor soils as well as under conditions of water stress. It may alter soil N:P stoichiometry. Dense populations are however rarely observed in semi-natural habitats in Western Europe.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verloove Filip
Published on:  04 December 2007
Last update:  01 August 2022
AEF (2006)
Cartes provisoires de la distribution de néophytes en Wallonie.
Unpublished document.
Bellingham, P.J., Peltzer, D.A. & Walker, L.R. (2005)
Contrasting impacts of a native and an invasive exotic shrub on flood-plain succession.
Journal of Vegetation Science 16(1): 135–142.
Bellingham, P.J., Pelzer, D.A. & Walker, L.R. (2005)
Contrasting impacts of a native and an invasive exotic shrub on flood-plain succession.
Journal of Vegetation Science 16: 135-142.
Binggeli, P. (1998)
An overview of invasive woody plants in the tropics.
University of Wales, School of agricultural and forest sciences publication no 13.
CPS-SKEW (2006)
Buddleja davidii.
From online fact sheets of the Swiss Commission for Wild Plants Conservation.
Day, J., Nigel, S. & Robertson, P. (2003)
The scrub management handbook: guidance on the management of scrub on nature conservation sites.
Forum on the application of conservation techniques, English Nature & RSPB.
Ebeling, S. (2008)
Does local adaptation facilitate the success of plant invasions? – A case study on Buddleja davidii.
PhD Thesis Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg.
Ebeling, S.K., Hensen, I. & Auge, H. (2007)
The invasive shrub Buddleja davidii performs better in its introduced range.
Diversity and Distributions 14(2): 225-233.
Ebeling,S.K., Welk, E., Auge, H. & Bruelheide, H. (2008)
Predicting the spread of an invasive plant: combining experiments and ecological niche model.
Ecography 31(6): 709–719.
Feng, Y.L., Auge, A. & Ebeling, S.K. (2007)
Invasive Buddleja davidii allocates more nitrogen to its photosynthetic machinery than five native woody species.
Oecologia 153: 501-510.
Humphries, R.N. & Guarino, L. (1987)
Soil nitrogen and the growth of birch and buddleja in abandoned chalk quarries.
Reclam. Reveg. Res. 6: 55-61.
Humphries, R.N., Jordan, M.A. & Guarino, L. (1982)
The effect of water stress on the mortality of Betula pendula and Buddleja davidii seedlings.
Plant & Soil 64: 273-276.
Kriticos, D.J.,Watt, M.S., Potter, K.J.B., Manning, L..,Alexander, N.S. & Tallent-Halsell, N. (2010)
Managing invasive weeds under climate change: considering the current and potential future distribution of Buddleja davidii
Weed Research, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3180.2010.00827.x
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
Nouvelle fore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines.
Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Muller, S. (2004)
Plantes invasives en France : état des connaissances et propositions d'actions.
Publication scientifique du Museum d'Histoire naturelle, Patrimoines naturels n°62.
Tallent-Hasell, N.G. & Watt, M.S. (2009)
The Invasive Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush).
Bot. Rev. DOI 10.1007/s12229-009-9033-0
Van Landuyt, W., Hoste, I., Vanhecke, L., Van den Bremt, P. Vercruysse, W. & De Beer, D. (2006)
Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest.
Nationale Plantentuin en het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek i.s.m. Flo.Wer vzw.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.
Wittenberg, R. (2005)
An inventory of alien species and their threat to biodiversity and economy in Switzerland.
CABI Bioscience Switzerland Centre report to the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests and Landscape. The environment in practice no. 0629: 155p.
von der Lippe, M. & Kowarik, I. (2007)
Long‐Distance Dispersal of Plants by Vehicles as a Driver of Plant Invasions.
Conservation Biology 21(4): 986–996.

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