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Ruscus aculeatus

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© RHS 2000

Characteristics

Plant type

Shrub

Habit

Bushy

Origin

Native to the UK

Toxicity

Acute ingestion may cause mild stomach upset

Resilience

Hardiness

H4 (hardy - average winter)

Colour

Flower

Pale Green in Spring

Foliage

Dark Green in Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter

Fruit

Red in Autumn and Summer

Size

Ultimate height

0.5-1 metres

Ultimate spread

0.5-1 metres

Time to ultimate height

10-20 years


Preferred common name

butcher's broom

Family

Asparagaceae


Ruscus are rhizomatous evergreen subshrubs with flattened, leaf-like cladophylls bearing small pale green flowers, followed on female or hermaphrodite plants by glossy red berries

R. aculeatus is a bushy sub-shrub to 75cm, with glossy lance-shaped cladophylls 2.5cm in length, flowering in spring, with glossy red berries on female plants in summer and autumn

Other common names

  • box holly
  • Jew's myrtle
  • knee holly
  • knee holm
  • knee hull
  • kneeholy
  • pettigree
  • pettigrue
  • prickly box
  • shepherd's myrtle
  • wild myrtle

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun
  • Part shade
  • Full shade

Aspect

  • South-facing, North-facing, West-facing or East-facing
  • Exposed or Sheltered

Cultivation

Dried stems may be used in floral arrangements. Individual shoots are short-lived. Grow in any but waterlogged soils

Soil

  • Well-drained or Moist but well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam

Propagation

Propagate by seed or division

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Drought Resistant, Low Maintenance, Wildflower meadow, Wildlife Gardens or Cut Flowers


How to care

Pruning

Cut out dead stems to the base in spring

Pests

Generally pest free

Diseases

Generally disease free