Butcher’s Broom » Ruscus aculeatus detail

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Ruscus aculeatus detail

The stiff, sharp blades of the “leaves” borne on the short, rigid branches of Ruscus aculeatus are actually modified stem tissue. This flattened stem is known botanically as a cladode. The minute true leaves and the tiny greenish-white flowers of Ruscus are borne on the midribs of the cladodes. While we have observed the minute blossoms, the plant has never fruited for us. It is dioecious, which means that it requires both male and female plants in order to bear the red-orange berries (see image). It may be that we have never had both sexes in the collection. Butcher’s broom is very easy to grow otherwise, and can be readily divided, provided that the gardener wears leather gauntlets as protection against the very sharp little “leaf” blades.

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