The evergreen shrub is a member of the boxwood family, Buxaceae, and probably native to western China. It grows 3-5′ tall and wide, is densely branched and has glossy leathery, lanceolate to elliptic leaves that are 1.2-2″ long, lustrous green above, light green below and have wavy margins. From winter to early spring, clusters of tiny, vanilla-scented, creamy-white male and female flowers appear on the same plant. The flowers lack petals but male flowers have 4 sepals and extrusive, cream-colored anthers, while female flowers have 4-6 sepals and 2-3 styles. Female flowers give way to shiny red fruits that turn black as they ripen a year later. Sweet box grows well in a container and is a good choice for a  border, hedge, screening, patio, and fragrance or winter gardens. The genus name, Sarcococca, comes from the Greek words σάρξ (sárx) meaning fleshy and κόκκος (kókkos) meaning berry and refers to the fruit. The specific epithet, confusa, is the Latin word meaning confused and refers to the fact this species is confused with other species. Photo Credit Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz Wikimedia Commons


    Type: Evergreen shrub

    Outstanding Feature: Fragrance

    Form: Rounded

    Growth Rate: Slow to moderate

    Bloom: Clusters of tiny, apetalous creamy-white male and female flowers on the same plant in winter to early spring

    Size: 3-5′ H x 3-5′ W

    Light: Full to partial shade

    Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained; tolerates dry soil

    Hardiness: Zones 6-9

    Care: Prune immediately after flowering to maintain shape

    Pests and Diseases: None of significance

    Propagation: Hardwood cuttings in late summer, seed

    Photo Credit: Meneerke bloem Wikimedia Commons

    By Karen