Family • Buxaceae - Buxus sempervirens L. - COMMON BOX

Scientific names

Buxus sempervirens L.
Buxus myrtiflolia Lam.

Common names

Box (Engl.)
Boxwood (Engl.)
Common Box (Engl.)
Common Boxwood (Engl.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Comparative analysis of medicinal plants used in traditional medicine in Italy and Tunisia / Maria Lucia Leoporatti and Kamel Ghedira / Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2009, 5:31doi:10.1186/1746-4269-5-31

(2) Buxus sempervirens / Plants For A Future

(3) Buxus sempervirens / Wikipedia

Common boxwood is a woody evergreen shrub growing to a height of 5 meters, densely branching, with a trunk up to 20 centimeters in diameter. Leave are in thick masses, arranged in opposite pairs along the stems, green to yellow-green, oval, 1.5 to 3 centimeters long, and 0.5 to 1.3 centermeters wide. Flowers are monoecious, inconspicuous, greeninsh-yellow, with no petals. Fruit is a three-lobed capsue containing 3 to 6 seeds.


– Recently introduced.
– Native to southwest Asia, Europe, northwest Africa.
– Used as a border plant.
– Popular indoor plant, especially for bonsai.

• Contains the alkaloid buxine which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. (See Toxicity below)
• Cycloprotobuxine, another alkaloid present in small amount, is being investigated as an anticancer agent.


• Considered alterative, antiperiodic, antirheumatic, cathartic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, febrifuge, narcotic, odontalgic, oxytoxic.


• No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• In Tunisia, considered antineoplastic.
• In Italy, employed as antimalarial.
• Used for rheumatism. Plant essential oil used in dentistry.
• Superstition / Witches: Believed to prevent witches from entering households. Because of its compactness and smallness of leaves, witches, with their penchant for counting leaves and twigs of trees, are stymied trying the count and recount the number of leaves.
• Wood: Wood is very hard and heavy, ideal for cabinet making, crafting clariets, engraving, woodturning, tool handles.

Study Findings
• Phytochemials / Steroidal Alkaloids: Phytochemical investigation of roots of B sempervirens isolated seven new steroidal alkaloids.
• Butyrylcholinesterase Activity: Chloroform extracts from the plant species of eight families were screened for their anticholinesterase activity on AChE and BChE enzymes. Three extracts, including Buxus sempervirens, were the most active against butyrylcholinesterase enzymes.
• Analgesic Activity: In a study of extracts of B sempervirens for analgesic activity, the aerial parts showed varying degrees of analgesic activitry while the roots showed highly significant analgesic effect in a dose-dependent manner.

• Livestock: Anecdotal reports of poisoning to farm animals. Accidental grazing may cause respiratory failure and death.
• Buxine: Buxine, the principal alkaloid, can cause respiratory paralysis in humans and livestock.