Buddleia is a most familiar and welcome member of our flora family but it is not always realised that it is not native to Britain but originated in China and Japan.

The bush, appropriately named 'butterfly bush' was first imported in the year 1800 and rapidly became naturalised across the country. Seeds are wind borne and the bush colonises railway embankments, holes in walls, rooftops and many rough areas, seeming to prefer derelict areas with poor soils.

Wild buddleia produces long spikes of pinkish coloured scented flowers but also comes in white, deep purple and several hybrids but these latter varieties are less attractive to butterflies. Flowering in June and July, buddleia attracts many species of butterfly. Twenty years ago the most numerous butterfly to be seen on the bush was the small tortoiseshell but sadly it has declined from being one of our commonest species to becoming quite a scarcity.

Red admirals, large and small whites, comma and peacock are regular visitors. Last year when on holiday in Devon we were treated to a mass influx of painted lady butterflies from north Africa, an event that occurs about every ten years.

Every buddleia I saw was festooned with painted ladies, up to three jostling for position on every flower spike, reminding me of decorated Christmas trees with many colourful baubles glinting in the sun.

The photograph shows a large white butterfly enjoying buddleia nectar.