Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

100 Flowers : #003 Sweet Box

It's interesting that so many winter flowering shrubs have highly scented flowers . . .

#003 : Sacococca hookeriana var. digyna

Sweet Box 

It would be easy to walk past this small rather uninteresting bush, were it not for the perfume that fills the space around it. The scent is hard to describe, it's sweet, heavy and can be overpowering if you bring a sprig or two indoors.

However outside in the garden the scent drifts around and dilutes, so you're not quite sure where it came from . . . did someone walk past wearing an expensive Parisian perfume?

The scent comes from these male flowers – clusters of stamens with tiny petals the size of pin heads at the base.

The female flowers are so tiny and insignificant it's hard to spot them . . .

Can you see the tiny green bulb-shaped embryo berries with two curved white stigmas emerging from the top – those are the female flowers. And it's the berries rather than the flowers that the botanical name describes . . .

Sarococca : sarkos means 'flesh' and kokkos means 'a berry'
hookeriana : is in honour of the botanist and director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Hooker (either Sir William Jackson Hooker or his son Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, no one seems to know which!)
digyna : di means 'two' and gyna means woman, refers to the female part or berry having two seeds.

I'm not sure I've ever seen berries on our Sweet Box. I wonder what pollinates the flowers?



  1. Im imagining the scentl as I read this, lovely!

  2. We have one in our garden, and it, along with the osmanthus, makes this time of year bearable. Except that Mr DC "helpfully" pruned the osmanthus yesterday while he was sorting out the wisteria, so I suspect we'll have no flowers this year!!!

  3. Celia --- fascinating that such an unassuming flower can give off such fragrance. I don't think I've ever seen one of these.... or perhaps I've just never noticed!

  4. Another shrub that I've long admired but never bought and planted. I really need to remedy these oversights this year! This post reminds me that I read about the same shrub many moons ago on a blog you might enjoy Celia.Take a look at it on: www.sampickarddesign.blogspot.co.uk from both an illustrative and plantswoman's point of view.

  5. ummm, i can almost smell them! reminds me of hawaiian plumeria and ginger, gorgeous intense fragrances in small packages!

  6. I think I have enjoyed the perfume of this plant but Don't think I have ever seen it...

    I am ejoying your garden posts.

  7. I love it, this is my favourite Sarcococca. The fragrance is wonderful and travels some distance. So much scent from such tiny flowers is amazing.


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