Ruscus hypoglossum, a native of Western Europe to Iran, is a compact evergreen shrub with a creeping rootstock that will reach 18 inches tall. It is an interesting plant with leaf-like cladodes (also known as phylloclades) to 3 inches wide to 1½ inches wide tapering at both ends. The true leaves are the smaller green appendages around the flowers. The "phylloclade" is a leaf-like flattened stem! (The giveaway is to look at the venation, which is much more stem-like).
Blooming Time: In spring, the very small flowers are produce in the axil of the leaf-like bract on the top of the cladode.
Culture: Ruscus hypoglossum need partial shade to full shade. Even though they tolerate full sun, the color is richer in shade. We grow ours under 70% shade all year. A suitable soil mix consists of 1 part peat moss to 3 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. They are very drought tolerant, but should be watered twice a week for optimum growth. Plants are fertilized once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. For folks with a warmer winter temperature (zone 8-10) they make outstanding groundcover under trees where nothing else will grow.
Propagation: Ruscus hypoglossum are propagated by division or by seed. Seeds need to be treated with gibberelic acid for 48 hours before sowing. Seeds are sown ¼ inch deep and should germinate in 60 to 120 days at 70° F.
Ruscus hypoglossum was featured as Plant of the Week February 1-7, 2002.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.