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Buxus sempervirens





Box is a classic of formal hedging, but this native shrub is under severe pressure in the wild.

How to spot it

Box has glossy, dark evergreen leaves which occur in opposite pairs on square stems and usually have their edges rolled under. Its yellowish flowers are easily missed in April as they are tucked away among the leaves. The flowers are in clusters of both male and female flowers, neither having petals. During a good Summer in Britain, small seed capsules with three short prongs develop. In tree form it has one or a few slightly twisted trunks with brown, cracked bark.

Best time to spot it

The best time of year to spot Box is April, though you’ll have to look carefully!

Where to spot it

As a native, Box occurs in Britain only in a few isolated localities on chalk in southern England, the best known of which is Box Hill in Surrey. It is found in woodlands and thickets on steep slopes on chalk, and in scrub on chalk downland.

How’s it doing?

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.

Things you might not know

  • All parts of the Box plant are poisonous!
  • Box wood has been used as material for a variety of things, from chess pieces to rolling pins.
  • Like other sombre evergreens, Box has long been used at funerals and to decorate graves.
  • Garden Box plants are under threat from the fungal disease Box blight and more recently from the Box-tree caterpillar.

Other Species

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Bastard Balm

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