Charateristics of butcher’s broom
Common noun: Butcher’s broom, Knee Holly
Scientific noun: Ruscus aculeatus L.
Habitat: In woods and dry places from the sea up to 1000 m.In the Mediterranean coast it is very common to find it under the shade of the evergreen oaks (quercus ilex)
Description of Butcher’s broom
It’s a perennial shrub from 25 to 100 cm tall,which can be seen in its male or female form as two separated plants.Both of them have smooth, round, dark-green stems.We can hardly see its leaves and what might be taken as leaves are,in fact, the cladodes, some modified stems, ovate -lanceolate,ending with a sharp little spine. Flowers are greenish and little conspicuous.
Female flowers are provided with six lobes, being the inner three smaller than the outer ones. Male flowers have joined the three stamens.The most outstanding, appealing part of the plant is the fruit;a round red berry, from 10 to 123 cm in diameter.When completely grown, it looks like a little ball stuck in the middle of the “false leaf”.It has been widely planted in gardens.
Picking and storing: The fruits must be collected in Autumn when completely matured. The fruits and the stems,specially those tender ones, must be collected in Spring.
PROPERTIES OF BUTCHER’S BROOM
Medicinal properties of Butcher’s broom
It’s got diuretic properties. The “leaves”, fruits and flowers, once boiled, can be mixed with a little wine so as to increase the level of urine discharges. So it can be useful to treat illnesses in which it is interesting to get rid of body liquids, such as obesity.
A twig with some fruits A closer view of the fruits
The most tender stems can be eaten as if they were asparagus with the same diuretic effects as well.
More information about natural medicine.