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Orange-eye butterfly-bush, or summer lilac, is native to southwestern China and was introduced into North America around 1900 for ornamental purposes. It escaped from plantings and occurs in scattered locations in the Northeast, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic and in the western U.S. from southern California to northern Washington. Butterfly-bush prefers disturbed sites and riparian areas. It is a deciduous shrub with arching stems and can grow 3-15 ft. in height. The leaves are 6-10 in. long, opposite, lanced-shaped, pale gray-green, velvety and have toothed margins. It flowers summer to fall. The flowers are produced in thick, wand-like clusters from the tips of stems. Flowers are tubular, with four petals with wavy margins and can be lilac, pink or white with a deep yellow to orange center. The flowers produce lots of nectar which attracts butterflies. It spreads by seed which is dispersed mostly by wind. A related species, Lindley’s butterfly-bush (B. lindleyana) has been reported to be invasive in natural areas in Florida.


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