Buxaceae (boxwood family) Buxus

Buxus microphylla var. japonica Japanese boxwood

Japan, Korea

Shrub, compact growth, usually sheared to form a low hedge. Leaves are simple, opposite, bright green in summer, to 1+-inch long. In winter the leaves can take on a bronze caste, which many find displeasing but which also distinguishes it at a glance from common boxwood, Buxus sempervirens. Japanese boxwood’s leaves have rounded tips, frequently with a tiny notch, and are broader above the middle. Common boxwood’s leaves are more or less pointed and broader below the middle. This latter leaf description, however, also applies to common myrtle, Mrytus communis, another widely used opposite-leaved hedge plant. Myrtle leaves are thinner, a bit shinier, sharper-pointed, and generally larger (except for selections such as ‘Buxifolia’), and its white flowers and bluish black berries are conspicuous, if any escape shearing. The boxwoods have small, inconspicuous flowers and fruit, described as dehiscent capsules.

Braun Center, Buck Estate, Main Quad at Thomas Church courtyard, Toyon Hall courtyard.

Illustrations: leaf comparison B. microphylla and B. sempervirens.

Name derivation: Buxus – the classical Latin name; microphylla – small-leaved; japonica – Japanese.

Related material: Stanford Grounds Plant Information Sheet. List No.13, page 5.

About this Entry: John Rawlings authored the text ca. 2005.