Ruscus aculeatus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaLiliaceaeRuscusRuscus aculeatus


A dioecious, evergreen, rhizomatous shrub, found as a native in dry woods and hedgerows, and on cliffs and rocky ground near the sea. It is also naturalised in similar situations, and in churchyards and near habitation. It reproduces vegetatively by creeping rhizomes, and by seed, which may be bird-sown. Lowland.



World Distribution

Submediterranean-Subatlantic element.

© M. Cotterill, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 4

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 4

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 782

Life form information

Height (cm): 77

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome shortly creeping

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 238

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 12

Atlas Change Index: 0.74

Weighted Changed Factor: 5

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (314a)
Mabey R
1996.  Flora Britannica.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.