Butcher's broom


The butcher's broom is a shrubby plant that sprouts spontaneously on the Mediterranean territory, including north-eastern Africa, and which currently also reaches central Europe. It enjoys wide diffusion as a decorative plant, due to its characteristic appearance: the leaves, which end in thorny tips (hence the name of the shrub itself), are decorated with bright red berries, which make the plant not only pleasing to the eye but also among the favorites for decorations in winter and Christmas. This is possible thanks to the characteristic of the butcher's broom of perennial plant, therefore potentially available for the whole year. Not only decorative, however: the butcher's broom it also reveals important phytotherapeutic properties that make it a precious resource. The rhizome is mainly used of the plant, as it is particularly rich in properties and active ingredients, but not only: the shoots collected between March and May can also be used in the culinary field, for salads or as an original side dish. The high efficacy of the butcher's broom to combat disorders of varied nature is such as to make the plant a base for many homeopathic products, sold in the form of drops, creams or other products for internal or external use, often in conjunction with active ingredients also extracted from other plants, in such a way as to make the product more effective while remaining completely natural.

Active ingredients and benefits

The rhizome of the plant is the part that contains the most active ingredients and is therefore the most effective: harvesting for phytotherapeutic purposes usually takes place in spring or autumn. Among the many properties recognized by the butcher's broom there are first of all those anti-inflammatory, vasoconstricting and vasodepurative, thanks to the high presence of flavonoids. The butcher's broom can stimulate the blood return from the organs to the heart, and for this reason it is recommended not only to improve circulation but also in cases of symptoms such as heaviness and swelling in the legs. The butcher's broom is also a valuable resource to combat hemorrhoidal syndrome and anal fissures. However, it should be borne in mind that it is a natural remedy, but not always and not digestible by everyone: butcher's-broom products can in fact present unpleasant side effects such as gastric disorders and nausea. For this reason, it is good to avoid taking it especially if such symptoms are already present or you recognize yourself as subjects prone to gastric and digestive difficulties.


Being a perennial plant, the butcher's broom is not particularly afraid of either cold or heat. On the contrary, its nature of spontaneous germination on our territory reveals the ease of cultivation which, together with the aesthetic characteristics, favor the wide spread of the butcher's broom even in domestic crops. The recommended period for planting the butcher's broom is winter, to then provide, in spring, for a pruning that will strengthen the plant and allow its healthy development. Although it is possible to sow the berries or the seeds contained in them, the most effective system for multiplication is the division of the tufts.If you still want to use the berries, it is advisable to place them in the sand immediately after harvesting, while the seeds can be buried in spring. The leaves that sprout at the base of the plant can be cut and placed in pots to root them, providing then, once the plant has reached considerable size, for positioning on the ground. The soil must not have particular characteristics, such as exposure and temperatures: the butcher's broom offers all the advantage of a plant capable of adapting to any climatic situation without suffering particular damage, especially as regards areas with a Mediterranean climate. , the most congenial and natural for the growth and development of the butcher's broom.

Butcher's broom: Products on the market

Given the simplicity of cultivation and the effectiveness of the active ingredients in the phytotherapeutic field, the butcher's broom finds wide application. On the market there are products based on butcher's broom both for internal use and for external use: the ointments based on butcher's broom can be useful in case of haemorrhoidal syndrome and fissures. For internal use there are mainly drops or tablets on the market to be ingested in compliance with the recommended quantities and frequencies. Up to now, no particular counter-conditions have been detected regarding the consumption of butcher's-broom products, even if concomitantly with other pharmacological preparations; in any case, in this case it is advisable to take it under medical supervision. Against cellulite or water retention it is possible to find various products on the market that combine the properties of the butcher's broom with extracts from other plants, for a more effective effect. Likewise, the butcher's broom can be found as a basic element for beauty products and aesthetic remedies.

Butcher's broom - garden

The Ruscus aculeatus it is a small shrub, no more than one meter high. In Calabria it grows from sea level up to over a thousand meters above sea level, rarely over one thousand three hundred because it suffers from prolonged frosts. From the plain to the mountain, the butcher's broom grows from shade to sunny positions. It is a rustic and resistant plant, suitable for all soils, even if it prefers calcareous ones. It was a rural custom to place bunches of butcher's broom in the vent holes of the house and warehouses, under fruit trees, and wherever it was intended to prevent mice from passing. It was used in gastronomy, cosmetics and the local pharmacy.

Bartholomaei Mini de Senis, Platearius, Nicolaus of Salerno, Tractatus de herbis, De Simplici Medicine, About instans, Antidotarium Nicolai (Salerno 1280-1310) The British Library

In Calabrian:
Luigi Petagna, G. Terrone, Michele Tenore, Journey to some places in Basilicata and in the lower Calabria. Made in 1826, French Typography, Naples 1827, p. 150.

Holly - garden

Shrubs are the first plants to use in the construction of a Mediterranean garden. Some species grow quickly and have long roots that secure slopes and cliffs subjected to landslides or made up of fill. Other species develop dense superficial rhizomes that prevent run-off. In a short time they provide the entire shady cover of the land, avoiding desertification and making it possible for the small sciaphilous seedlings of the trees, such as the holm oak, to grow and strengthen. Shrubs often contribute to changing the pH of the soil, improving its fertility and creating a layer of humus.
In time the trees will outnumber the shrubs, decreeing death or scaling. The roots of the trees, grown thanks to the shade of the shrubs, will secure the soil for a few centuries. Mediterranean shrubs are so beautiful that they deserve dominant positions in large flower beds, while with most of them you can create stunning Mediterranean alternating hedges.

Butcher's broom, flower of good omen

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Widely spread throughout the Italian and European territory, the butcher's broom is the common denomination of Ruscus aculeatus, one of the few species of the genus Ruscus.

This type of plant has a shrubby habit with a rather small size below 100 cm, in fact, the ramifications often fold on the ground as they grow, forming a dense interweaving. The peculiarity of the butcher's broom lies in the false leaves, called cladodes, which are actually shape adaptations of the stem Oval which remain green throughout the year, effectively giving it its typical evergreen peculiarity.

The use that has been made of it over the years has led the butcher's broom to be classified as a plant at risk of disappearing, however in many areas not altered by man it is not only widespread below 600 meters in height (despite being very rustic), but it is often used and defined Christmas butcher's broom, thanks to its red berries used as an ornament for the holidays.

Butcher's broom flowers and fruits

The butcher's broom in spring produces very small but pleasant ones inflorescences on the cladodes, the "false" leaves of the plant. Being a plant dioecious, in order for the fruits to be generated, a male and a female gender are needed. Following pollination, intense red berries begin to form from the flowers which remain on the plant throughout the winter season, until they yield in the following months. Each berry contains approx 2-3 seeds.

Butcher's broom cultivation

The ideal soil for the butcher's broom

In nature it is possible to find the butcher's broom generally in the undergrowth of temperate areas, especially those of the Mediterranean Sea basin, although it is quite common to "find" it even in the Apennine hinterland. The ideal soil on which it grows is light, rich in organic matter and tends to be acid. Not surprisingly, when growing it in pots, it is preferable to use the soil suitable for citrus fruits and peat to regulate pH.

Being a strong plant it does not require special precautions, the important thing is to avoid the water stagnation so you have to ensure an excellent drainage both in open ground and in pots.

Butcher's broom exposure

The ease of cultivation of the butcher's broom is certainly given by its high tolerability to climate in which it grows. As for theexposure in which this plant must be placed, there are no particular attentions, as it easily withstands both direct sun and exposure to the shade. Generally the best results are obtained in half shade, so that he can enjoy the light without getting burned during hot periods.

Also being a lot resistant, even if placed in full shade, it does not fear frost and humidity: therefore it is a perfect plant for any location in the garden or even for the windows of the house facing north.

Butcher's broom pruning and fertilizing

How and when to prune the butcher's broom

Not having overgrowth vigorous, does not require frequent pruning, although sometimes they can prove useful both to contain the branches of the plant and to encourage its growth.

Before pruning, it is good to wear suitable gloves since the fake leaves have a sharp end similar to one thorn which can cause scratches on the skin, then proceed: with one shears sharpened in spring, the old and weak stems can be removed so as to leave room for sprouts new. The larger branches can also be shortened at this stage.

In the period autumnal, on the other hand, a light containment pruning can be performed to tidy up the plants and prepare them for winter. A potted butcher's broom can be pruned more to facilitate the emission of further jets and to maintain an orderly and clean shape.

Watering of butcher's broom plants

There rusticity of the butcher's broom is also reflected in the need for watering. Generally it is a plant that does not need large quantities of water, especially if grown in the open ground, since its location in the undergrowth or in partial shade allows it to constantly enjoy the right degree of humidity. It can be watered 1-2 times a week in hot weather, while for potted plants the quantity may be greater in relation to exposure. The ideal would still be to keep the soil slightly moist but never excessively wet.

When to fertilize and propagate this plant

The fertilization of the butcher's broom is an intervention to be done regularly especially with regard to young plants or those in pots. During the spring season you can opt for a liquid fertilizer to be administered through watering, while in autumn, it is necessary to intervene with a slow release fertilizer, such as the granular one, to be spread directly on the ground. It is essential to report the procedure indicated on the packaging since it does not normally require fertilization, it could damage the root system in case of excessive treatments.

How to propagate the butcher's broom

There are three different ways to propagate the butcher's broom:

the division of the rhizomes

- Lto production of sprouts

Both in early spring and during autumn it is possible to multiply the butcher's broom dividend the underground rhizomes with a sharp and clean blade. Just scrape the soil superficially to find the roots of the plant and start the division, then with a fork or shovel you can extract the new plant.

A simpler system is the separation of the shoots that form around adult plants while sowing is decidedly less advantageous. In fact, the use of seeds takes a long time for the growth of the plant so it is usually the least preferred method.


TROPICA - Butcher's broom (Ilex aquifolium) - 30 Seeds- Magic tropical

Pests and diseases of the butcher's broom

Being a very resistant plant also from the point of view of parasites, its cultivation is also suitable for non-expert gardeners. On the contrary, if neglected, it can develop pathologies such as root rot in relation to its poor tolerance towards inefficient drainage. Excess water can cause rot of the root system and, consequently, the death of the plant itself.

To avoid this problem, you can add gravel to the soil by placing a layer at the base or use theexpanded clay in spheres that will not only lighten the ground but also favor the drainage of excess water.

Butcher's broom and holly: how to distinguish them

Despite the butcher's broom andholly are often confused, already at a first observation it is possible to identify the differences. The most evident feature concerns the leaves, very different from each other also in form. Another classification aid is given by berries, which in the butcher's broom are formed on the cladodes, while in the holly they are generated on the leaf axils often in bunches.

As for the posture, the holly can also reach considerable heights as it is a real tree. Finally, as regards the properties contained within the berries, holly is potentially lethal for humans if about twenty fruits are ingested.

The use of the butcher's broom in the kitchen

The butcher's broom is often assimilated to the most common asparagus both in terms of collection and in terms of use in the kitchen. Usually the edible part is the Bud or shoot, which is cut in spring as soon as it emerges from the ground, although some even prefer to dig to collect these delicacies when they still have a color whitish, index of tenderness and delicate flavor.

If harvested too late, on the contrary, they are woody and rich in fiber. THE shoots they are cooked in abundant water and vinegar to eliminate part of the bitter taste that characterizes them and then they are stored in jars or even sautéed and served with meats, fish, rice or eggs.

Butcher's broom property

Popular studies and traditions have shown how this plant is endowed with incredible properties diuretic since it stimulates the production of urine and the elimination of excess fluids with toxins present in the body. For this reason, it is effective against the kidney stone or against the commune cystitis.

The active ingredients contained in it also make it an excellent vasoconstrictor of the capillaries since it significantly strengthens the walls and, moreover, greatly promotes the blood circulation especially if venous.

Christmas holly: curiosity

As you can guess from the name itself, the butcher's broom was used to keep away the mice and the rats from the peasants' pantries. Collected the branches and arranged around the cheeses, bread or flours, the thorny stems acted as a deterrent for rodents who wanted to eat their provisions for the winter. The characteristic denomination would derive from this use.

Another use was as a material for building brooms thanks to the elasticity and durability of the drums that hardly break even if dried. It also finds great space inside the flower shops for the creation of original floral compositions or during periods Christmas in which he becomes the protagonist in garlands and plant crowns also thanks to his own red berries. According to the various European and Italian traditions, this plant should be considered a lucky charm like holly and mistletoe, symbolizing a wish for luck and of fertility.

Uses of the butcher's broom

The butcher's broom it is harvested for ornamental purposes during the Christmas period for the beauty and bright red color of its berries to compose baskets, centerpieces and Christmas decorations. The Butcher's Broom or Ruscus aculeatus is also cultivated in gardens to create beautiful patches of color in the winter. The tender boiled sprouts are excellent for salads.

Contraindications of the butcher's broom

None but it is not recommended to take it in case of ascertained hypersensitivity to one or more components.

The butcher's broom or Rusco is a medicinal plant rich in ruscina and ruscoide, phytosterols, potassium and calcium salts.

Her herbal virtues they have been known since ancient times and in fact have been recognized for their anti-inflammatory, astringent and sweat-inducing properties.

It is excellent diuretic: helps fight fluid retention and fight cellulite.

He is powerful venous tonic: activates the venous circulation, fights the heaviness of legs, the phlebitis and the varices.

It is considered an effective remedy for the treatment of chronic hemorrhoids and gout.

Combats joint pain and heals mild rheumatism.

Video: Health benefits of Butchers broom

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