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a genus of plants of the family Ruscaceae. Plants of this genus are dioecious, evergreen, very branchy shrubs with creeping rhizomes. The leaves are reduced, small, and scalelike. The axils bear phylloclades—leaflike, usually thorny, branches. The small flowers develop on their upper or lower surfaces, singly or in groups of two to six; the perianth is greenish and simple, with six divisions; there are three stamens; the fruit is a berry.
There are five or six species found in the Azores, the Canary Islands, the island of Madeira, Western Europe, the Crimea, and the Caucasus. There are four species in the USSR, growing in mountain forests, on rocky slopes among bushes, and on cliffs. The fruit of the Ruscus colchicus is edible; its grass, like that of R. ponticus, is prepared as feed for cattle and goats. All the Ruscus species are used as ornamentals.