Perennial evergreen shrub to about 1.25 m; stems woody, branched, branches whorled. Leaves reduced, scale-like, subtending the cladodes. Cladodes cauline, alternate, ovate to broadly lance-shaped, sharp-pointed. Inflorescence several-flowered, male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers bowl-shaped, spreading; autumn to spring. Tepals to 2.5 mm long, green; stamens violet. Fruit red, 1-2-seeded.
Southern Europe, the Azores and Black Sea region
var. angustifolius Boiss.is a miniature version of the species with small, tough, narrow leaves.
R. hypophyllum L., Butcher's Broom, from the western Mediterranean and northern Africa is a perennial evergreen shrub to about 1 m; stems woody, sometimes 1-branched. Leaves reduced, scale-like, subtending the cladodes. Cladodes cauline, alternate, ovate to broadly lance-shaped, not sharp-pointed. Inflorescence several-flowered. Flowers unisexual, both sexes on the same plant; autumn and spring.Tepals to 4.5 mm long, spreading, green; stamens dull violet. Fruit red, 1-2-seeded.
R.×microglossum Bertol. is a garden hybrid cross (R. hypoglossum × R. hypophyllum) with large pale green cladodes and flowers with a distinctive dark violet staminal tube.
Source: (2005). Ruscaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 5. Flowering plants. Monocotyledons. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.