Box
(Buxus sempervirens)
Simple
Roundish
Opposite
Untoothed
Evergreen

leaves

flowers
(flowers)

fruits
(fruits)

tree

distribution map

The oval, leathery leaves are opposite, 10-25 mm long, arranged in short-stalked pairs on hairy twigs. They are dark green above and brighter green below. They often have a slight notch at the tip.

ID check

Box is a small evergreen tree or shrub, rarely over 3 m high but it may reach 10 m. It grows wild on Box Hill, Surrey and in a few other localities, on chalk and limestone in S.England. It is also widely planted for game cover, topiary, formal hedges and path edges.

The greenish-yellow male and female flowers grow together on the same plant, (monoecious) in the same clusters at the base of the leaves.

The male flowers have 4 sepals and 4 stamens, whilst the females have 4 sepals and a 3-styled ovary.

The seed capsules are blue-green with 3 horns, which ripen and turn brown in September to release black seeds.

Facts

  • Box wood is so heavy it sinks in water when green.

  • The wood does not warp and is valuable for carving chessmen, and for making mathematical instruments and blocks for wood engraving.

  • Box, like many other evergreens, was long associated with funerals; sprigs were thrown into graves after the coffin had been lowered.

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