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Similar but less problematic plants:
Microbiota decussata Microbiota decussata
Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis is often confused with:
Buxus microphylla var. japonica Buxus microphylla var. japonica
Buxus sempervirens Buxus sempervirens
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Fatsia japonica Fatsia japonica mature in Wilmington, NC
Aucuba japonica Aucuba japonia leaves
Helleborus foetidus Helleborus foetidus

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sar-koh-KOH-kuh hook-er-ee-AN-uh HEW-mil-is
Description

Sweetbox is a slow growing evergreen shrub in the Buxaceae (boxwood family) that spreads by underground stems to form a colony. It has fragrant white blooms in early spring that hide under foliage.  The glossy evergreen leaves are in same plane along the stems giving it a herringbone pattern, hence its common name.  The leaves and showy fruits give the plant winter interest.

Useful in groups as filler or background, as an informal hedge or let it naturalize in the landscape.  It tolerates heavy shade.

Quick ID

  • Lanceolate leaves alternate in herringbone pattern
  • Green stems foul-smelling when bruised

Insects, Diseases,and Other Plant Problems: Susceptible to boxwood blight.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#cpp#groundcover#naturalizes#black fruits#small group plantings#heavy shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#winter interest#showy fruits#hedges#cpp#groundcover#naturalizes#black fruits#small group plantings#heavy shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarcococca
    Species:
    hookeriana
    Family:
    Buxaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. Homalaya to SE. Tibet.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Shrub
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are globose, berry-like drupe, black, 0.5 cm.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are apetalous, whitish to cream, fragrant, 1 cm long, in leaf axils.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate, entire, acute, cuneate, glabrous, 6-8 cm long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stem is slender, green, slightly pubescent, foul-smelling when bruised.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems