Shrub 0.5–3.5 m, semi-scandent or occasionally a small tree. Branchlets stellate-tomentose, sub-angular or terete. Leaves opposite, petiolate, petiole 3–11 mm, stellate tomentose; stipules leafy 0.5–5 mm; blade elliptic or ovate, 2–5 × as long as wide, 2–13 × 0.5–5 cm, dark green, shiny and glabrous on upper surface, white tomentose with short stellate hairs beneath; acuminate at apex, cuneate or rounded at the base; margins serrate or entire; venation conspicuous, reticulate, impressed above and prominent beneath. Inflorescences terminal, large, many-flowered panicle 2–25 × 2–20 cm. Peduncle, branches and pedicels stellate-tomentose; lower bracts leafy, other small and linear. Flowers sweetly-scented, shortly pedicellate or subsessile. Calyx campanulate, 1.5–2.5 mm long, tomentose with short stellate hairs. Corolla creamy, white with a yellow or orange throat; lobes erect, oblong or suborbicular, outside whitish-tomentose with short stellate hairs or partially glabrescent. 1.5–2.0 × 1.2–1.8 mm; inside pilose with simple hairs from apex of ovary to just below the insertion of the stamens; tube nearly cylindrical 5.5–9 mm long, diameter 1.2–2 mm, often slightly widened just above insertion of the stamens. Stamens included, inserted 2–3.5 mm from corolla mouth; filaments short 0.3–1.0 mm long, anthers oblong 0.9–1.2 × 0.3–0.4 mm. Pistil much shorter than corolla tube, 2.2–4.3 mm long; ovary ovoid, laterally compressed, 0.9–1.5 × 0.7–1.0 × 0.6–0.9 mm, shortly stellate tomentose, abruptly narrowed to the style; style included, stellate tomentose at base, 0.5–1.7 mm long; stigma large, clavate, 0.3–1.2 × 0.3–0.5 mm. Capsule ellipsoid, laterally compressed 2–4 × 1.5–2 × 1.2–1.5 mm, stellate-tomentose but less so than the ovary. Seeds medium brown, polyhedral, narrowly winged 1.2–1.5 × 0.6–0.7 × 0.3–0.4 mm. (Leeuwenberg 1979).
Distribution Mozambique South Africa Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga Swaziland Zimbabwe
Habitat Forest margins and thickets, on rocky slopes and in gullies; 600–2000 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9-10
RHS Hardiness Rating H3
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
The epithet ‘auriculata’ refers to the ear-shaped structures (auricles) which join the pairs of opposite leaves, although these wither away as the leaves age. Buddleja auriculata is a large shrub or small tree from southern Africa with attractive glossy-green foliage; the leaves are a deep-green with a silvery underside and plants may be evergreen if grown in a sheltered position. Profuse spikes of tiny, tubular, sweetly-scented, white, cream, or pinkish flowers appear towards the end of summer and into autumn or early winter, until frost damages the buds. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, but the honey-perfume scent is both noticeable and particularly fine.
B. auriculata is borderline hardy, and will not tolerate temperatures much below –5ºC. Large; mature specimens may be more resilient to lower temperatures, but will suffer significant frost damage to the top-growth. It is best grown against a sunny wall in a sheltered location, preferring well-drained soil and full sun; it is also drought tolerant. Alternatively, it may be grown in large pot and only brought under cover for the coldest months (Stuart 2006).