Buxus

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Buxus

 

(box), a genus of evergreen shrubs or trees of the family Buxaceae. The leaves are opposite, entire, and smooth-edged. The small, unisexual flowers have one or several bracts and a four- to six-leaved perianth. They are gathered into a capitate-spicate inflorescence, usually having a solitary pistillate flower surrounded by numerous staminate flowers. The fruit is a trilocular capsule, which, upon ripening, breaks open and scatters its black, shiny seeds.

There are more than 40 species (according to other data, as many as 70), distributed in Southeast and East Asia, in the Mediterranean region (including the Caucasus), along the Atlantic coast of Europe, in the West Indies, on Socotra, on Madagascar, and in Africa.

Two species grow amid the underbrush in the middle and lower mountain zones of the USSR. B. colchica is found in the Western Caucasus, and B. hyrcana grows in the Talysh Mountains. Four species have been introduced into the USSR: B. sempervirens, B. microphylla, B. harlandii, and B. balearica. B. sempervirens, which is native to the Mediterranean region, is a densely leaved shrub or tree measuring 6–10 m tall and having shiny, leathery leaves. It is used as a border plant or as a hedge. B. microphylla and B. harlandii, both of which are East Asian species, are cultivated in the Crimea and the Caucasus, as is B. balearica, which is native to the Balearic Islands.

The plants yield a wood that is yellow, very dense, strong, and hard. It is used in lathe work as a material for carving and engraving; it is also used in the manufacture of such articles as mouthpieces, pipes, combs, and rulers.

REFERENCE

Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.

V. N. GLADKOVA

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