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Sarcococca hookeriana

Phonetic Spelling
sar-koh-KOH-kah hook-er-ee-AN-ah
Description

Sweet Box is a shade-loving, evergreen, low shrub that matures to about 5 feet high and 6 feet wide. The plant spreads slowly by rhizomes to form a colony and does best in shady areas of the landscape. The dark green evergreen leaves provide an attractive winter interest with small, fragrant white flowers that bloom in the spring. Sweet box is drought tolerant, but leaves can lose their luster and become yellowish if grown in sun. It is particularly resistant to damage by deer. The genus name comes from the Greek words sarkos meaning flesh and kokkos meaning a berry in reference to the fleshy fruits. The species name honors Sir Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), a British botanist and explorer who was a director of Kew Gardens

Sweet Box does best in organically rich, acidic, moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade with consistent moisture. Established plants have some drought tolerance and are cold hardy to about -10 F. You can prune the shrub in spring after flowering to maintain an attractive shape and desired height.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests.

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

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See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • black fruit
  • var. humilis
    Good groundcover.
black fruit, var. humilis
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#shade shrub#spring flowers#deer resistant#low growing plant#attractive leaves#groundcover#black fruits#low hedge
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • black fruit
  • var. humilis
    Good groundcover.
black fruit, var. humilis
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#shade shrub#spring flowers#deer resistant#low growing plant#attractive leaves#groundcover#black fruits#low hedge
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarcococca
    Species:
    hookeriana
    Family:
    Buxaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    ground cover
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Central and Eastern Himalaya to South Eastern Tibet
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Mounding
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    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
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers give way to globose, shiny black fruits to 1/3 of an inch wide.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny, apetalous (without petals), unisexual, tubular, fragrant, white flowers (1/2 inch long) bloom in the leaf axils in March-April.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous dark green leaves, 3 1/2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide and slender pointed are evergreen. Typically alternate, but occasionally opposite.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade