Winter box, sweet box
A plant of understated beauty and usefulness, Sarcococca confusa is a hardy, spreading evergreen shrub.
The glossy leaves and tiny, heavenly scented winter flowers bring joy to even the shadiest spot, followed by small glossy black berries by summer.
This plant is probably native to Western China but grows wild across regions of East and South East Asia, including the Himalayas. Its dark summer berries are eaten by birds, who facilitate seed dispersal. The winter flowers are a rare source of sustenance for any occasional airborne insect braving a mild winter day.
The genus was named Sarcococca by western botanists for the Greek sarx (‘flesh’) and kokkos (‘berry’), and the species name comes from the latin for ‘indistinct.’ The tiny winter flowers are tucked closely to the base of the leaves along the stems. On a still winter’s day the sweet scent will pervade the atmosphere, giving rise to the common name of ‘Sweet Box’ after its vague similarity to Buxus hedging.
Care & Size Guidance
Whilst it will need regular watering in sunnier spots, this plant can be tolerant of dry shade and neglect once established. The shrub has an arching loose habit that forms attractive natural sprays, do not be tempted to prune too regularly or vigorously as you may spoil the shape and get fewer flowers.