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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Buxaceae (box family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Buxales

The five genera and about 70 species have a scattered distribution worldwide, with two species in the genus Buxus native to southern Africa. A further two genera and four species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Genera native to southern Africa


About 70 species with a scattered distribution worldwide. Two species are native to southern Africa: Buxus macowanii (Cape box) and Buxus natalensis. In addition, Buxus sempervirens (Common box), which is native to Europe (extending through to Turkey), is cultivated in the region.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

The species is listed for genera with only one species cultivated in the region. List from Glen (2002). Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) has been moved to its own family, the Simmondsiaceae, placed in the Caryophyllales.

Sarcococca (Sweet box)

A genus of evergreen shrubs with about 16-20 species, native to Asia. Two species cultivated in southern Africa (both from China): Sarcococca confusa (Christmas box) and Sarcococca ruscifolia (Fragrant sarcococca).


Pachysandra terminalis

Native to Japan.


  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.