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The Box

UK Garden Centre - Information about the Box tree

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Family Buxaceae
Buxus sempervirens

Though frequently met with in parks and ornamental grounds, there are only a few places in this country where the Box is apparently indigenous. These are the counties of Surrey, Kent, Buckingham and Gloucester. On the famous Box Hill, near Dorking, in Surrey, it may be seen attaining its proper proportions as a small tree, and in sufficient abundance to form groves covering a considerable area. Box Hill is in no sense a plantation; its slopes and summit are clothed with a natural mixed wood of Box, Oak, Beech and Yew.
The Box grows to a height of twenty or thirty feet with a girth of about three feet. Its slender branches are clothed with small, oblong, leathery leaves, about an inch in length, polished on the upper side, evergreen, and opposite.
The flowers may be looked for from January to May, and will be found clustered between the leaf and the stem. They are quite small and inconspicuous, of a whitish-green colour, and the sexes are in separate flowers. The uppermost one in the centre of each cluster is a female flower; the others are males. The males consist of four sepals, enclosing a rudimentary ovary, from beneath which springs four stamens. The sepals of the female flower vary in number, from four to twelve, and enclose a rounded ovary with three styles, which are ripe and protruded before the males open. This develops into the three-celled capsule with three diverging beaks, which correspond with the styles, and in each cell there are one or two black seeds.
The growth of the tree is very slow, and, in consequence, the grain of the wood is very fine. It is also very hard, and so heavy that, alone among our native woods, it will not float in water.
On account of its fine grain and hardness, it is in request by the wood-turner and mathematical instrument maker, and was formerly largely prepared for use by the wood-engraver for “wood-cuts”.


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