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Buxus sempervirens
Mature specimen
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Buxales
Family: Buxaceae
Genus: Buxus
Species: B. sempervirens
Binomial name
Buxus sempervirens

Buxus sempervirens (Common Box or European Box; also as Boxwood) is a flowering plant in the genus Buxus, native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia, from southern England south to northern Morocco, and east through the northern Mediterranean region to Turkey.[1][2][3] Buxus colchica of western Caucasus and B. hyrcana of northern Iran and eastern Caucasus are commonly treated as synonyms of B. sempervirens[4][5].

It is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 1-9 m tall, with a trunk up to 20 cm diameter (exceptionally to 10 m tall and 45 cm diameter[6]). The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, green to yellow-green, oval, 15-30 mm long and 5-13 mm broad. The hermaphrodite flowers are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, with no petals and are insect pollinated; the fruit is a three-lobed capsule containing 3-6 seeds.[1][3]

The species typically grows on soils derived from chalk, limestone, usually as an understorey in forests of larger trees, most commonly associated with Fagus sylvatica forests, but also sometimes in open dry montane scrub, particularly in the Mediterranean region. Box Hill, Surrey is named after its notable box population, which comprises the largest area of native box woodland in England.[7][8]

Cultivation and uses

Box topiary in the garden of Alden Biesen Castle, Belgium

It is a very popular ornamental plant in gardens, being particularly valued for topiary and hedges because of its tolerance of close shearing, small leaves, and scented foliage. Several cultivars have been selected, including 'Argenteo-variegata' and 'Marginata' with variegated foliage, and 'Vardar Valley', a slow-growing semi-dwarf cultivar.[9][10]

The wood ("boxwood") is very hard (possibly the hardest in Europe) and heavy, making it ideal for cabinet-making, the crafting of clarinets, engraving, marquetry, woodturning, tool handles, mallet heads and as a substitute for ivory. The noted English engraver Thomas Bewick pioneered the use of boxwood blocks for engraving.[3][10][11][12]

The leaves were formerly used in place of quinine, and as a fever reducer.[11]

The species is locally naturalised in parts of North America.[13]



  1. ^ a b Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  2. ^ Flora Europaea: Buxus sempervirens
  3. ^ a b c British Trees: Buxus sempervirens
  4. ^ GRIN Taxonomy for Plants - Buxus sempervirens
  5. ^ Med-Checklist: Buxus colchica
  6. ^ Tree Register of the British Isles
  7. ^ Mitchell, A. F. (1974). A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-212035-6
  8. ^ Bean, W. J. (1976). Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles 8th ed., vol. 1. John Murray ISBN 0-7195-1790-7.
  9. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  10. ^ a b Plants for a Future: Buxus sempervirens
  11. ^ a b Pg.171, Lawrence, E., ed. (1985) The Illustrated Book of Trees & Shrubs. Gallery Books ISBN 0-8317-8820-8.
  12. ^ University of Newcastle: Thomas Bewick's use of boxwood
  13. ^ "PLANTS Profile". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Buxus sempervirens


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Ordo: Unassigned Eudicots
Familia: Buxaceae
Genus: Buxus
Species: Buxus sempervirens


Buxus sempervirens L.


  • Species Plantarum 2:983. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. 8212

Vernacular names

Català: Boix
Česky: Zimostráz vždyzelený; Zimostráz obecný
Dansk: Almindelig Buksbom
Deutsch: Gewöhnlicher Buchsbaum
English: Common Box, European Box, Boxwood
Español: Boj Común
Français: Buis Toujours Vert
Italiano: Bosso Comune, Mortella, Bossolo
Polski: Bukszpan Zwyczajny, Bukszpan Wieczniezielony
Русский: Самшит вечнозелёный
Svenska: Buxbom
Türkçe: Adi Şimşir
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Buxus sempervirens on Wikimedia Commons.


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