Ruscus aculeatus

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Illustration Ruscus aculeatus0.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Ruscus
Species: R. aculeatus
Binomial name
Ruscus aculeatus
  • Oxymyrsine pungens Bubani
  • Ruscus flexuosus Mill.
  • Ruscus laxus Sm.
  • Ruscus parasiticus Gueldenst.
  • Ruscus ponticus Woronow

Ruscus aculeatus, known as butcher's-broom,[2] is a low evergreen Eurasian shrub, with flat shoots known as cladodes that give the appearance of stiff, spine-tipped leaves. Small greenish flowers appear in spring, and are borne singly in the centre of the cladodes. The female flowers are followed by a red berry, and the seeds are bird-distributed, but the plant also spreads vegetatively by means of rhizomes. Ruscus aculeatus occurs in woodlands and hedgerows, where it is tolerant of deep shade, and also on coastal cliffs. It is also widely planted in gardens, and has spread as a garden escapee in many areas outside its native range.

The Latin specific epithet aculateus means “prickly”.[3]

Plant growth habit
Plant with fruit

Common names[edit]

  • Butcher's-Broom
  • Kneeholy, Knee Holly, Kneeholm
  • Jew's Myrtle
  • Sweet Broom
  • Pettigree
  • Λαγομηλιά (Lagomiliá): Hare's apple (in Greek), and Kentromyrrine (Κεντρομυρρίνη) [Theophrastus, Inquiry into Plants, 3.17.4]
  • Le Fragon: The butcher (in French)
  • Pungitopo: Mouse stinger (in Italian)


The dwarf cultivar ‘John Redmond’, growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall by 100 cm (39 in) broad, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[4][5]

Other cultivars include 'Christmas Berry'[6]


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 5 August 2017
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 184533731X.
  4. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Ruscus aculeatus 'John Redmond'". Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 93. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  6. ^ Gys Petrus de Jong, Ruscus plant named 'Christmas Berry' US PP16680 P2, retrieved 20 July 2016

External links[edit]