Thursday, February 04, 2016

Box




A new species. Possibly not the first this year as I've managed to identify a few mosses and liverworts, but I was reminded of the blog by one of my erstwhile readers whilst we perambulated Box Hill in Surrey and nudged into action. 
Box Hill is famous for, and named after, the Box, Buxus sempervirens, which grows in profusion on its flanks. It is just north or Dorking and part of the North Downs chalk ridge. From it we could clearly make out Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs.
Box seems to behave a bit like yew. The seedlings develop in areas of deep shade and, presumably because of its evergreen nature, can continue growing before the deciduous canopy gets the upper hand. The canopy here is mostly beech. There is also plenty of yew around.
Box is a smelly plant. It is slow growing, producing very hard wood which is especially valued by wood-engravers who carve into the end-grain of blocks formed from it. It is perhaps most familiar to people as a plant of topiary and parterres, leading many to think it must have been introduced. It is, however, a stalwart native with many places named after it. e.g. Bexhill, Bexley, Box Hill, Bix and Bixley.
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