||Though best known for the common box (Buxus sempervirens) and Japanese box (B. microphylla), the genus Buxus in fact has most its 50 or so species in the West Indies and Central America, with the remainder scattered through eastern Asia, the Himalayas, Africa and Europe. All are evergreen shrubs or small trees with simple smooth-edged leaves arranged on the twigs in opposite pairs; some of the tropical species have leaves much larger than common box. Flowers are small, greenish or yellowish, in tight clusters of one female and several males borne in the leaf axils, the most conspicuous parts being the styles and stamens. Fruits are small capsules with 2 little ?horns? at the apex of each of 3 segments, which split apart explosively to expel their few seeds. Apart from their use as garden and landscape plants, Buxus are famed for their dense, close-grained yellowish wood, regarded as unequalled for woodcut engraving as well as small turned and carved objects such as buttons, knobs and chess pieces. The leaves and twigs are poisonous and occasionally kill livestock.
||CULTIVATION: The smaller-leafed species are among the most popular of all evergreens in cool-climate gardening. They are valued for their dense fine-textured foliage, hardiness under a wide range of conditions and ability to take frequent trimming and shaping, which makes them so well suited for hedges and topiary. They will grow in most soil types including chalk, though requiring reasonable drainage. Propagation is almost invariably by cuttings which are very easily rooted at most seasons, but seed also germinates readily enough.