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Plants of the Bible: Box (Buxus sp.)

Box is a slowgrowing evergreen shrub or small tree with small leaves and clusters of small yellow-green, apetalous male and female flowers in the leaf axils of the same plant.  The fruit is a capsule containing several small seeds.  The most familar box in American is English box (B. sempervirens) that grows up to 30′ but is ususally kept smaller.  The most likely species of box growing in the bible lands, however, is B. longifolia, a 2-3′ tall shrub.  The identity of the plant mentioned in the Bible is controversial and some translators do not think any kind of box is indicated and suggest entirely different trees like cedar.

Isaiah 41 The reasons why the Jews should place confidence in God’s promises of delivering them are set out.

19. “I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree; I will set in the desert the fir-tree, the pine, and the box-tree together”(ASV)

Isaiah 60:1-22  God’s covenant is given.

13. “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine, and the box-tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious”. (ASV)

Ezekiel 27  1-36: Tyres greatness in commerce is described.

6.”Of the oaks of Bashan have they made thine oars; they have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood, from the isles of Kittim.” (ASV)

Boxwoods like moist, well-drained soil and sun or shade but must have consistently moist soil when grown in full sun.

The genus name Buxus is derived from the Greek puxos meaning box tree; the specific name sempervirens means  ever- living and refers to the evergreen nature of the plant. The common name, boxwood, refers either to the use of the wood for boxes or to the fact that the stems of young plants are a square box in cross section.