Ruscus is a genus of flowering plant in family Ruscaceae, comprising 6 species. It is native to western and southern Europe (north to southern England), Macaronesia, northwest Africa, and southwestern Asia east to Caucasus.
Ruscus species are evergreen, subshrub perennial plants, growing to 1 meter tall. The plants have branched stems, bearing numerous leaf-like shoots called cladodes, 2 - 18 cm long and 1 - 8 cm broad. The true leaves are minute, scale-like and non-photosynthetic. The flowers are tiny, star-shaped, white with a dark violet centre, and situated on the middle of the cladodes. the fruit is a red berry, 5 - 10 mm in diameter. Some species of Ruscus are monoecious, while others are dioecious.
Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher's Broom) is a low evergreen, Eurasian shrub, with flat-shoot known as cladodes which give the appearance of stiff, spine-tipped leaves. This species is unusual in this genus in not needing both male and female plants in the gardens to produce berries, although the berries are only seen on female plants and will be more prolific if a male plant is also present. In spring, tiny greenish flowers are borne singly in the centre of the cladodes, followed by red berries which appear in autumn and last into winter. The seeds are bird-distributed, but the plant also spread vegetatively by means of rhizomes. Ruscus aculeatus can be found in woodlands and hedgerows, where it is tolerant of deep shade, and occurs also on coastal cliffs.
Ruscus hypoglossum, 45 x 90 cm, can be used for groundcover in a shady corner. It has gloosy, mid-green cladodes and bears tiny, star-shaped, greenish flowers on the upper surface of each cladode. These are followed by round, bright red berries which last into winter.
Ruscus is hardy and grows well in sun or shade, in well-drained soil. Propagation is by ripe seed ; or division in spring.