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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Box, Bush Tree, Dudgeon
(Buxus sempervirens)

Possible skin irritant.
Animals have died from eating the leaves.

CONTAINS: LEAVES contain a volatile oil and alkaloids.
BARK contains chlorophyll, wax, resin, gum lignin, sulphates of potassium and lime, carbonates of lime and magnesia, phosphates of lime, iron and silica.

A small (3 to 15 feet) dense, hardwood evergreen, being heavily branched, with angular slighty hairy twigs, found in limestone areas of western and southern Europe and in some parts of south and central England. Trunk bark is greyish; branch bark tends toward a yellowish color. Leaves are about 1/2 inch long, ovate, deep green above, pale beneath, shiny, leathery, red in autumn. Flowers are pale yellow in axillary clusters. Fruit is a globular, glossy, 6-seeded capsule. A popular topiary and hedge plant. Can be distinguised from Bearberry (Uva-ursi) by the notched apex of the leaf.

The alternate name 'dudgeon' comes from its use by wood workers to make the handles of Dudgeon-hafted daggers from the root.

PROPAGATION: By softwood cuttings in a peat-sand mix.
NEEDS: Grown as an ornamental in well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil in sun or part shade. Hardy to 10ºF, but prefers warmer winter temperatures. Can be used for hedging by planting 8 feet apart. In spring, cut back hard to encourage new growth. For TOPIARIES and HEDGES, cut to shape in summer. Leaves are susceptible to leafspot, rust, boxwood psyllids, mites and leaf miners. Older plants are susceptible to 'boxwood decline' which is especially severe in poorly draining soils.
HARVEST: Leaves in early spring before flowering; bark is stripped from wood and dried.
PART USED: Leaves, bark, wood.
DWARF BOX (Buxus suffructaca): Has similar medicinal properties
B.s. 'Elegantissima', Kingsville Dwarf, B.s.Latifolia Maculata syn Japonica Aurea


A strong smelling plant considered to be alterative, cathartic, diaphoretic, narcotic, febrifuge, sudorific, and vermifuge.
Has been used historically to lower fevers (particularly intermittent fevers like malaria), for rheumatism, for intestinal worms (powdered leaves), and as a purge for bowels.
Has been used to treat secondary syphilis and in tincture form for leprosy. An oil distilled from the wood has been used for epilepsy, piles and toothache.
Once used as a substitute for quinine for treating malaria, but rarely used today due to its toxicity.
Was once included in old nostrums for the bite of a mad dog.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
PURGATIVE = 1 tsp powdered leaves
VERMIFUGE = 10 to 20 grains of powdered leaves
SUDORIFIC = 1 to 2 oz wood in decoction

Used to treat rheumatism.

A hard wood once used for making boxes, printing blocks, cabinets, turnings, and for mathematical, nautical, and musical instruments.
Wood has been used in engraving.
Has been used in hair restoration products. A decoction was once prescribed to restore hair. Leaves and sawdust boiled in lye were used to dye hair auburn.
At one time extracts and perfumes were made from the leaves and bark.
The dried and powdered leaves were once given to improve the coats of horses (HIGHLY POISONOUS!!) and also given for 'bot-worm' in horses.
Once used in France as a substitute for hops, and the branches used as compost for grape vines.

©2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH