This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Evergreen shrubs or small trees with alternate exstipulate leaves and axillary bracteolate clusters of polygamous flowers. Perianth of 4 segments in the male, and 4 to 12 segments in the female flowers. Stamens 4. Cells of the capsule 1- or 2-seeded. Besides the hardy species, there are several others in Africa and the West Indies. The name is derived from the Greek appellation
1. B. sempervirens. Common Box. - This handsome shrub is indigenous in Surrey, covering a large area on Box Hill.
The varieties in cultivation are numerous, both variegated and green. There is the dwarf bushy form used for edging, and several varieties with gold and silver striped foliage. B. s. myrtifolia is a robust form with relatively large coriaceous foliage; and B. s. rosmarinifolia is a dwarf bush with slender branches and narrow leaves. The names of the varieties, arborescens, angustifolia, rotundifolia, etc., suggest their characteristic features.
2. B. Balearica. - This is a more robust-growing species with yellowish green oblong-elliptical emarginate coriaceous leaves about 2 inches long with a cartilaginous margin. The female flowers only are sessile in this species, whilst in B. sem-pewlrens those of both sexes are sessile. This handsome evergreen shrub is a native of Minorca.
B. Japonica is a variable species closely allied to the common European B. sempervirens, differing in the large dilated furrowed rudimentary ovary of the male flowers.