Butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus, bg: bodliv zalist) is a low evergreen subshrub. Its green, highly branched stems can reach a height of 30 to 60 cm, spreading by creeping rhizome. The stem’s terminal branches are flat, lancet shaped and emphatic middle vein. They are called cladodes and look like leaves with a spike on top. The cladodes are small, dark green and pointed, hence the other popular name of this plant - mouse ears (bg: mishi ushi). The plant’s actual leaves are underdeveloped and have the appearance of flakes emerging from the bosom of the cladodes. Ruscus aculeatus’ flowers appear in the period from February to April. 1-2 pale green flowers show up in the bosom of small bracts on the underside of the cladodes. The female flowers are followed by a fleshy spherical red berries, ripen in November-December.
Ruscus aculeatus is tolerant to shaded areas and it is common in the undergrowth of some coastal forests. In the territory of Bulgaria this shrub can reach an altitude of 900 m asl. This is a rare species and its collection is forbidden. Ruscus aculeatus is a relic that prefers the xerothermic (dry land) oak forests in Strandzha Mountain and along the Black Sea coast.
Ruscus aculeatus is widely spread in the Mediterranean, southern Europe and the southern parts of US.