11th January 2014

BUTCHER’S BROOM: Walking up the track from mum’s, as I did on a wonderfully crisp, cold sunny morning today, I always take note of this fascinating small, wild shrub- the Butchers Broom. Originally from Hungary, this plant only grows in the south, in dry woodlands, even in quite dense shade. It grows slowly and is spread by birds eating the fruit and dropping the

A typical, deceptively dull-looking bush of Butchers Broom

A typical, deceptively dull-looking bush of Butchers Broom

These tough, prickly 'leaves' are actually flattened stems

These tough, prickly ‘leaves’ are actually flattened stems

The attractive flowers are very tiny, and on the plant even at this time of year

The attractive green flowers are very tiny, and on the plant even at this time of year

The occasional red fruits are much larger than the flowers which grow into them.

The occasional red fruits are much larger than the flowers which grow into them.

seed. The tiny, barely visible but attractive flowers give rise, to a few of these very big red berries which the thrush family love. The bush itself is unusual- what appear like tough, sharp-pointed leaves are actually flattened, modified stems called ‘cladodes’. Tough and prickly, these stems were used by butchers to clean their floors and cutting blocks, hence the name ‘Butchers Broom’. The stems and rhizomes have been valued since the ancient Greeks as a herbal remedy and products are still widely available as anti-inflammatories, to aid circulation and decrease fluid-retention. Conditions: Cold, clear day. Temperature: Max 6- Min 5C.

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