Butcher's Broom
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Butcher's Broom
E Introduced Photo: Thingnam Anjulika
Common name: Butcher's Broom
Botanical name: Ruscus aculeatus    Family: Asparagaceae (Asparagus family)
Synonyms: Ruscus flexuosus, Oxymyrsine pungens, Ruscus laxus

Butcher's Broom is an evergreen, drought-loving shrub. The parts that look like leaves to us are actually flattened stems, 1.5 to 2.5 cm long. They photosynthesize like leaves. The leaves themselves are inconspicuous scales, which fall off easily and so they do not come into appearance. There are several small white flowers in the middle of the leaf-like lateral shoots (phylloclades). If these then ripen in the middle of the "leaves" into red berries, the branches of the butcher´s broom are very decorative. The phylloclades are leathery hard and taper into a sharp needle-like point at the end. In English, the plant is called "butcher's broom" because in Italy the butchers used to clear their chopping blocks with brooms made out of the hard branches this plant. Butcher's Broom is native to Eurasia, cultivated elsewhere.

Identification credit: Pankaj Kumar Photographed in Ukhrul district, Manipur.

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