Botanist's Glossary

Butcher's Broom - Ruscus aculeatus

  • Description
    • Butcher's broom or knee holly (Ruscaceae family) is a small evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 30 to 80 cm in thick clumps. Its tiny, greenish flowers are replaced by bright red, inedible berries. Butcher's broom grows in the undergrowth in the South of France and along its Atlantic coast. Threatened by over-harvesting, it is now a protected species in many regions of France.
  • Traditions
    • The young shoots of butcher's broom are edible and can be eaten in spring in the same way as its relation, the wild asparagus. As far back as ancient Greek and Latin times, its root was used as a diuretic - a purpose for which it continued to be used in western medicine. Today, butcher's broom is used for its venotonic properties and is often prescribed to treat venous insufficiency. It also has an anti-inflammatory action.
  • Properties
    • The root of butcher’s broom is a powerful vasoconstrictor and has circulation-boosting properties. It is thus very effective for relieving feelings of heaviness in the legs and combating under-eye puffiness and circles. It is also renowned for its softening and astringent properties.