Butcher’s brom, knee holly

Ruscus aculeatus

Butcher’s brom or knee holly (Ruscus aculeatus) is a small bush of green stems with a characteristic oval with a spiky tip, stiff, false leaves. The deceit of its false leaves is found out when a white flower or a red berry appear on its center. In fact they aren’t leaves, but derived from the stem cladophylls. It is a very popular plant because it is often used as a Christmas ornament.

The knee holly is quite common in Montserrat. However, the wild goats (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) like it very much, they eat their false leaves, even more when young and fresh, leaving just naked stems as seen in pictures 3rd and 4th. Therefore, the knee holly regression is awaited in Montserrat subsequent to the successful introduction of the wild goats.

[photos Florenci Vallès (1st and 2nd) and Jordi Badia (3rd and 4th)]