Box Buxus sempervirens
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Box, a classic of formal hedging, is a native shrub. However it is under severe pressure in the wild.
In tree form it has one or a few slightly twisted trunks with brown, cracked bark.
The glossy dark evergreen leaves occur in opposite pairs on the square stems and usually have their edges rolled under. The yellowish flowers are easily missed in April, tucked away among the leaves; the clusters contain both male and female flowers, but neither has petals.
The small, dry capsule has three short prongs, but only matures in a good summer in Britain. All parts of the plant are poisonous.
As a native it occurs in Britain only in a few isolated localities on chalk in southern England, the best known of which is Box Hill in Surrey.
Native to woodlands and thickets on steep slopes on chalk, and in scrub on chalk downland.
Best time to see
When it flowers in April
Box is considered to be Nationally Rare in Britain as it is widespread as an introduced plant. It is believed to be native at only some of its sites, such as the Mole Valley in Surrey. The remaining populations are generally stable, and there appear to be no clearly identified and significant threats.
Did you know...
Box wood has been used as material for a variety of things, from chess pieces to rolling pins.