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Ruscus aculeatus, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters
Ruscus aculeatus, photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters

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Zones 4-24, H1
Partial SunNo Sun
Partial, Shade
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Ruscus aculeatus


Evergreen, Shrubs


Flattened, leaflike branchesdo the work of leaves for theseOld World natives, bearing tinygreenish white flowers in thecenters of their upper surfaces.They are interesting in driedarrangements. If both male andfemale plants are present, orif you have a plant with maleand female flowers, bright red(sometimes yellow), marble-sizefruit follows flowers. Tolerantof dry shade, a wide variety ofsoils, and competition fromtree roots, these are valuablegroundcovers under trees. Theyspread widely by rhizomes.Plants are subject to chlorosisin the desert.

Ruscus aculeatus

Native fromthe Mediterranean and Blackseas to the British Isles andthe Azores. To 1–4 ft. tall, withbranched stems. Spine-tipped“leaves” are 1–3 in. long, athird as wide, leathery, dull darkgreen.

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