Information on Butcher's-broom

Common Name: Butcher's-broom
Scientific Name: Ruscus aculeatus
Irish Name: Not known at present
Family Group: Asparagaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Butcher's-broom is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Butcher’s-broom is an evergreen shrub that usually grows to about 1 metre or so in height. It has really small flowers (5mm) and these are pale greeny-yellow and star-like with 6 petals. The centre of the flower is purplish and the flowers grow on the upper surface of leaf-like cladodes which are modified, flattened, stiff stems, sharply-tipped, dark green & shiny. The flowers are dioecious and they can be seen from January to April. The leaves are reduced to small, membranous papery scales. In autumn the fruit is a small red berry.

Butcher’s-broom is an introduced species and grows in dry woods, hedgerows and parkland. It mainly occurs in the north-east and south-east. It belongs to the Asparagus/Asparagaceae family.     

I first saw this species many years ago in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin and I photographed it there in 2010.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Butcher’s-broom was so named because butchers would tie the stiff branches together and use the resulting bundle as a broom to clean their cutting surfaces. It has had various uses in herbal medicine ranging from treatment for varicose veins to use as an anti-inflammatory although results from modern clinical trials would appear to be limited.