Buxus sempervirens. Box.
Nat. Ord. — Euphorbiaceae. Sex. Syst. — Monoecia Tetrandria.
Description. — Buxus Sempervirens is a small, dense-leaved, hard-wooded, evergreen tree. The leaves are ovate, opposite, deep shining green, becoming red in the autumn, quite smooth and entire, with the cuticle of the underside readily stripping off ; petioles and young branches slightly downy ; flowers aggregate, axillary, pale-yellow. Capsule globular, three-horned, tricoccous, six-seeded, bursting elastically. Seeds parallel, oblong, slightly compressed, externally rounded.
History. — This is an exotic though generally well-known plant, growing on dry chalky hills in Europe, and the west of Asia. One variety of it, the B. Suffruticosa, Dwarf-box, with obovate leaves, and a stem scarcely woody, and which is much esteemed for borders along the walks of gardens, possesses similar medical virtues. It is of very slow growth, a tree eight feet high must be one hundred years old. The wood is yellow, very hard, and much used by wood-engravers for woodcuts, also for other purposes. The leaves, which are the parts used, are bitter and nauseous, and impart their properties to water or alcohol.
Properties and Uses. — Cathartic, sudorific, alterative, and anthelmintic. It may be used in syrup or extract, in all diseases where an alterative is required ; said to be an equivalent of Stillingia in syphilis, but I have used the plant somewhat extensively, and do not consider it near as effectual. In doses of ten or twenty grains of the powdered leaves, it proves an excellent vermifuge. The dose of a strong decoction or syrup, is from half an ounce to an ounce, three or four times a day. And in combination with the Stillingia and Corydalis, in the form of syrup, it forms one of the best antisyphilitic remedies known in practice. Reputed to possess antispasmodic virtues, and to have been beneficially used in epilepsy, chorea, hysteria, etc., but requires further corroboration. Chips of the wood are said to have the same properties, and have been prescribed in syphilitic diseases, and chronic rheumatism. A fetid empyreumatic oil, oleum buxi was formerly prepared, but the use of which has become superseded by the preparations of Guaiacum ; it has, however, been successfully used in toothache. Camels who eat the leaves are said to become poisoned.