Thursday, 12 July 2012

Buddleia: Weed of Concern

This is the time of year when the Buddleia (correctly, believe it or not - Buddleja, as ruled in 2006 by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature) is coming into full bloom. The sight of that glorious abundance of purple (or lilac or white) flowers on every patch of waste land, beside every railway line, in woods and hedges and gardens - and indeed pretty much anywhere, even high up on buildings - reflexively gladdens the heart of the butterfly fancier. Those nectar-rich blooms are famously attractive to butterflies, not to mention bees and moths - but in this terrible summer the Buddleias are not likely to be having many callers. If not born to blush unseen, they will, I fear, be wasting their sweetness on the desert air...
Buddleia is, according to one of many websites advising on its 'control', 'now undergoing a reputation reconstruction' (not with me, it isn't), as it becomes increasingly notorious for its invasive properties. Like many an imported plant, once it has got over the garden wall it has gone, well, wild, even 'rampant'. Originating on the scree slopes of Tibet and mountainous China, Buddleia found itself perfectly at home on thin-soiled waste ground, roadsides and, in particular, railway verges - where, conveniently, the breezes generated by passing trains spread its millions of seeds along the tracks and up into the air, to lodge wherever there was a foothold. The railway companies fight a never-ending, always-losing battle against Buddleia, and every year it comes out on top. If ever the railways are abandoned and left to nature, they will become one great network of Buddleia highways in no time... In New Zealand, where Buddleia is classified as a 'weed of concern', they're trying biological control with Chinese weevils. Let's hope that doesn't go wrong and they end up with 'weevils of concern'


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