Properties of butcher’s broom

What is butcher’s broom

Butcher's broom
Butcher’s broom fruit and cladodes

Charateristics of butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus)

Common noun: Butcher’s broom, Knee Holly

Scientific noun: Ruscus aculeatus L.

Family: Ruscaceae

Habitat: where to find butcher’s broom?

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)

This plant has been widely planted in gardens.

Description of Butcher’s broom

Botanical illustration
Botanical illustration

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”.

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.

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.

It can be useful to treat illnesses in which it is interesting to get rid of body liquids, such as obesity, rheumatism or dropsy.


The most tender stems can be eaten as if they were asparagus with the same diuretic effects as well.


This plant is used in some places as a Christmas’ plant

More information about natural medicine.

This article was endorsed by Vicente Martínez Centelles - Founder of the web and director. Teacher of natural sciences, expert in plants, natural remedies and botanical photography.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

7 July, 2020

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical-online" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.