Glorious spring has arrived and the air is filled with the sensual delights of spring blossoming fragrances. Right next to my stoep there are several Buddleja salviifolia and Buddleja auriculata trees. As soon as the sun goes down the lilac-like fragrance wafts through the air into the house.
Locally Buddleja salviifolia is known as Sagewood, Wild Lilac, and Butterfly bush. Buddleja auriculata is known as the Weeping Sage. Buddleja salviifolia and Buddleja auriculata are members of the Wild Elder family. There are 21 tree species of Wild Elder worldwide of which South Africa has 20. They occur in the wild from Tanzania, Malawi; Mozambique; Zambia; Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and in South Africa; Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape, Western Cape to Swaziland.
In the wild the leaves of Sagewood are browsed on by game such as bushbuck, impala, kudu, eland and the grey duiker. It also serves as an excellent fodder tree for cattle and goats alike. Even my dogs love grazing on the leaves. As the flowers on the tree produce a large amount of pollen and nectar, this tree is also very popular amongst bee farmers. It often called Butterflybush as it has been observed that at least 15 species of butterflies visit these bushes when they are in flower, and it is the host plant for the African leopard butterfly Phalanta aethiopica.
Traditionally, the leaves reminiscent of the cultivated Sage are used for the treatment for colic and coughs, for cleansing sores, taken as a tonic and used as an eye lotion. A decoction of the root is also used as a remedy for coughs and colic. The dried leaves can also be boiled as a tea. The blossoms also make a soothing and refreshing bath tea. The hard tough wood was used for assegai shafts, and is still used for fishing rods.
Of all the perfumed buddlejas, the scent of Buddleja salviifolia and Buddleja auriculata is the finest. The scent and blossoms of Buddleja auriculata is very similar to that of B. salviifolia, although B. auriculata’s blossoms vary in colour from creamy white to orange and that of B. salviifolia from creamy white to purple. Both the scent of the blossoms of the purple B. salviifolia and that of B. auriculata have higher notes and are less powdery than the scent of the creamy B. salviifolia. B. auriculata flowers at least a month earlier than B. salviifolia anouncing that Spring is on its way. I usually use the blossoming as a signal to get ready for the busy time of Spring harvest. The best time to harvest the flowers is after sunset when the scent is strongest.
I have successfully used the blossoms in both enfleurage and in tincture. In both the lovely lilac-like scent comes through strongly. The yellow core of the tiny flowers however gives a strong saffron colour to the tincture. Although it is very time consuming plucking each of the tiny tubular shaped blossoms from the sepals, the end result is really most awarding. As the blossoms do not have high water content you can get a really strongly scented tincture. It blends beautifully with other florals as well as green notes. I especially love pairing it with Cape May