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A Neglected Genus – Ruscus

by Sally Razelou
photographs by Davina Michaelides

For the full text of this article see The Mediterranean Garden No 54, October 2008

Three Ruscus species grow in the garden of Sparoza. Although no longer popular as garden plants, they are worthy of being used far more generally in a dry garden than they are today. Plants of the woodlands, forests and maquis in Mediterranean regions, they have all the right characteristics for a garden with minimal irrigation as long as some shade is present. They look the same year-round whatever the season or climatic conditions. They are not badly behaved and require no maintenance except in the spring, when each small rounded rhizome with fleshy short roots produces a new stem. If the old stems are cut back as cleanly and as far as possible a fresh new stem appears, giving the whole plant a new dress of soft, light green foliage.

In September, Ruscus aculeatus, R. hypoglossum and R. hypophyllum look green and handsome in the garden of Sparoza after more than four months without rain.

Ruscus hypophyllum

Ruscus aculeatus, the Butcher’s Broom

Ruscus hypoglossum
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