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Dioecious shrub, 1–5 m tall, with grey fissured bark; branchlets subquadragular and tomentose. Leaves subsessile or sessile, stipular line conspicuous, blades lanceolate to elliptic, 5–22 × 2–6 cm, subcoriaceous, glabrescent and bullate above, tomentose below; apex long acuminate, base decurrent, margin crenate-serrate. Inflorescence one terminal head with 1–7 pairs of pedunculate heads, peduncles 1–6.5 cm long, each head 1–2 cm in diameter with 30–50 flowers. Calyx tubular and tomentose outside, 2–3 mm long, lobes 0.7–1 mm long. Corolla deep-yellow to orange, occasionally paler, tubular to funnel-shaped, glabrous except for a few stellate hairs near the throat, and a few warty hairs in upper part of the tube, tube 4.5–5.5 mm long, orbicular lobes 1.2–2 × 2–2.5 mm. Stamens sessile, inserted just below the throat, anthers 1–1.2 mm. Ovary tomentose on upper half, 1.5–2 mm long, style 1.5–2 mm in length, stigma clavate, 1–1.7mm long. Capsule ellipsoid, 4–7.5 × 2.5–4 mm, tomentulose. Seeds subglobular to polyhedral, wingless, 0.7–0.8 × 0.5–0.6 mm. (Norman 2000).
Distribution Argentina Chile Valparaíso Region south to Chiloé (Los Lagos Region)
Habitat Dry and moist forests (commoner in humid habitats), often on disturbed ground, from near sea level to 2000 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 6-9
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards RHS AGM
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note Buddleja globosa is very closely related to B. araucana, but the two species are geographically isolated from one another (Norman 2000), with B. globosa being a plant of less arid habitats and generally found further west in the Andes.
Together with the likes of Fuchsia magellanica and Gunnera manicata, Buddleja globosa is one of the most familiar of Chilean plants grown in northern temperate gardens. It makes a distinctive, large, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub, and its extraordinary infloresences only need to be seen once to be remembered forever. Within the genus it is second only to B. davidii in popularity as a garden ornamental, and it was an obvious choice for the cover illustration of the recent publication of botanical art Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile (Gardner, Hechenleitner V. & Hepp C. 2015). The leaves are large, deep green and somewhat puckered on the upper surface, paler and tomentose below; this contrast can be very effective and adds interest when plants are not in flower. It blooms in late spring or early summer; the inflorescences are of 5–9 well-branched, ball-shaped clusters of yellow to orange flowers, up to 2 cm in diameter with the appearance of mini golf-balls. In common with many New World Buddleia B. globosa is dioecious with separate male and female plants producing staminate and pistillate flowers respectively; pistillate (female) flowers can be identified by close examination of the stamens, which are are withered and shed no pollen and, in the presence of a suitable pollinating plant, form substantial seed heads later in the year; staminate (male) flowers have more conspicuous stamens which will visibly shed pollen.
This species was an early arrival into northern gardens from temperate South America. First introduced by Lee and Kennedy of the Vineyard Nursery in Hammersmith (London, UK) in 1774, it was described and named in 1782 by John Hope, 4th Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and in 1792 it would become only the second Chilean species to be illustrated in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Gardner, Hechenleitner V. & Hepp C. 2015). It became a popular garden shrub in Britain long before the introduction of B. davidii more than a century later, and is now cultivated across the world in temperate gardens (Norman 2000). Long before its introduction to our area, however, B. globosa was already widely cultivated in its native Chile, where infusions of it leaves and flowers have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhoea, digestive complaints, liver disease, as well as ulcerated wounds, sores and warts. The leaves are still used to make a tisane and in their dried state have been used a source of brown dye and as a pipe-tobacco substitute (Norman 2000; Gardner, Hechenleitner V. & Hepp C. 2015)
B. globosa is fully hardy down to about –15°C and possibly can withstand even lower temperatures in winter, although several plants of cultivated origin died in various rural Perthshire gardens in the 2010-2011 winter when temperatures dipped as low as –20°C (T. Christian pers. comm. 2020). It is a vigorous species, a reliable bloomer, and tolerant of most soils except those prone to water-logging. Generally, it does not require pruning other than to control its size or to prevent wind-damage, but may be cut back after flowering when it will regenerate top-growth in the same manner as other Buddleja.
There are several named cultivars – e.g. ‘Cally Orange’, ‘Lemon Ball’ – but these do not the vary significantly from the species. The form typically available in the nursery trade has the rich orange flowers for which the species is best known, but some forms, such as HCM 98017 collected in Chile in 1998, differs by having particularly pale flowers, but is otherwise identical (Stuart 2006). CGM 127, collected in 2013 and represented at Benmore Botanic Garden in Scotland, also has very pale flowers (T. Christian pers. comm. 2020).
RHS Hardiness Rating: H5
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9
A cultivar selected from one of 20 seedlings raised by the late Michael Wickenden, of Cally Gardens in Scotland, from seed he collected in Chile in 1986 (M. Wickenden pers. comm.). ‘Cally Orange’ is reported to have larger flower heads of a superior colour, a deeper orange than average, but is otherwise typical of the species (Stuart 2006).
RHS Hardiness Rating: H5
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9
‘Lemon Ball’ is a Buddleja globosa cultivar of unknown origin, distinguished by having flowers of a paler hue, more yellow than orange (Stuart 2006). It bears only pistillate (female) flowers. It is perhaps less vigorous than other forms but otherwise it is identical to the species (pers. obs.).