Plant Description

Ruscus hypoglossum

Ruscus hypoglossum

This is a very tough, evergreen rhizomatous subshrub (ht 45 cm) growing from Italy, the Czech Republic to Turkey, which forms a wide clump of up to 1 m in spread. Sometimes known as the insect plant, it has tiny flowers in the middle of its spiky 'leaves' (actually stems), looking for all the world like little bugs. Another colloquial name for the plant is the spineless butcher's broom, as another species (Ruscus aculeatus) is called butcher's broom, because apparently in days gone by, the mature spiky branches of that plant were bundled and used as brooms by butchers to clean their chopping blocks! I have previously used this latter name for what I now believe to be Ruscus hypoglossum that grows in my garden, with larger, softer foliage. I don't think I have ever seen the other species in Sydney, though it is the most commonly grown in northern hemisphere gardens.

It forms an impressive mass, and will grow in difficult spots where few other plants will thrive: from dry shade with root competition from big trees to places in full hot sun! It will grow in any soil as long as it isn't actually waterlogged. It can also grow well in a pot in the garden, on a shady verandah or even indoors.

If there are male and female plants, showy red berries will form from the flowers. It is reasonably frost hardy. Propagation is by dividing the rhizomes.

 

Ruscus hypoglossum
Foliage useful in floral arrangements.
Plant Family: Asparagaceae

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