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Butcher's Broom

Ruscus aculeatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asparagaceae (Asparagus)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
75 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, hedgerows, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, woodland.

Green, 3 petals
Pale yellow or green flowers, up to 5mm across. Sometimes purple-spotted around the edges. The flowers grow out from the centre of the cladodes (see the section on leaf details). 3 petals and 3 sepals.
A red berry. The seeds are distributed by birds and ripen from August to March.
Butcher's Broom has no leaves. The leaf-like structures are actually flattened stems. These structures are called 'cladodes'. This plant is a low-growing evergreen shrub with oval cladodes that end in a sharp spiny point. Throughout the British Isles, Butcher's Broom is the most common in the south and east of England.
Other Names:
Box Holly, Jew's Myrtle, Knee Holly, Knee Holm, Knee Hull, Kneeholy, Pettigree, Pettigrue, Prickly Box, Shepherd's Myrtle, Wild Myrtle.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Ruscus aculeatus, also known as the butchers broom, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae. It is native to western and southern Europe, including the UK, France, and Spain. The plant is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of up to 1 meter. It has small, leathery leaves and inconspicuous flowers that are followed by bright red berries. R. aculeatus is valued for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including venous insufficiency, constipation, and kidney disorders. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is known for its ability to tolerate dry, rocky soil.


Butcher's Broom, Ruscus aculeatus, is a low-growing evergreen shrub that is native to the Mediterranean region and is widely used in traditional medicine for its various therapeutic properties. The plant's stems and leaves are the main source of its medicinal benefits.

Butcher's Broom has a long history of use in folk medicine, dating back to ancient times. It was commonly used to treat a variety of ailments, including circulatory problems, joint pain, and urinary tract disorders. In more recent times, scientific studies have confirmed many of the traditional uses of Butcher's Broom and have found new applications for the plant.

One of the most important benefits of Butcher's Broom is its ability to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. The plant contains compounds called ruscogenins, which are known to have vasoconstrictive effects and can help improve blood flow. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an effective treatment for conditions such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and other circulatory disorders.

Butcher's Broom has also been found to be effective in treating joint pain and other musculoskeletal problems. The plant's anti-inflammatory effects can help reduce pain and swelling in the joints, and it has been shown to be especially effective in treating osteoarthritis. It is believed that the compounds in Butcher's Broom help to lubricate the joints, improving mobility and reducing pain.

In addition to its medicinal benefits, Butcher's Broom is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping. The plant is low-growing, with dense green leaves and small, unassuming flowers. Despite its small size, Butcher's Broom is a tough plant that is able to thrive in a variety of conditions, making it a popular choice for landscaping in difficult-to-grow areas.

Another benefit of Butcher's Broom is its diuretic properties. This means that it can help increase the flow of urine and promote the elimination of excess fluids from the body. This can be particularly helpful for people who suffer from fluid retention or other conditions that cause swelling. Additionally, the increased flow of urine can help to flush toxins and waste products from the body, improving overall health and well-being.

Butcher's Broom is also thought to have a positive effect on the digestive system. The plant has been used to treat various digestive problems, including constipation, bloating, and indigestion. It is believed that the compounds in Butcher's Broom stimulate the digestive muscles, helping to improve the flow of food through the digestive tract. This can reduce discomfort and promote regular bowel movements, improving overall digestive health.

It's important to note that, although Butcher's Broom is a safe and effective plant, it is not without its side effects. The plant is known to have a mild laxative effect, so it should be used with caution by people who have sensitive digestive systems. Additionally, people who are taking blood thinners or other medications should talk to their doctor before taking Butcher's Broom, as it may interact with these drugs.

In conclusion, Butcher's Broom is a valuable plant with a wide range of therapeutic properties. From improving circulation and reducing inflammation to promoting healthy digestion and reducing fluid retention, Butcher's Broom has many benefits to offer. If you are interested in incorporating this plant into your health routine, be sure to talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.


Butcher's Broom filmed at the promenade at Grange-over-sands in Cumbria on the 16th April 2023.


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