Scientific name: Sarcococca confusa
Common names: Sweetbox, sweet box, Christmas box, winter box
Location: Oakleaf Woods, Charlotte, NC
Date: December 7, 2015
Notes: I love this plant! Thick evergreen leaves are tough and attractive, and when sweetbox blooms (in winter!) it is wonderfully fragrant. Flowers are creamy white and they dangle in bunches from every node. After blooming, black berries form, which often persist until next year’s blooms open. Sweetbox will grow in deep, dry shade, which makes it useful for areas not hospitable to other things. It will tolerate some sun if more water is provided. Mine are planted as foundation plants and get small amounts of early morning or late afternoon sun. I do recommend placing them near your door if you plant them. They are not as large or prickly as osmanthus, but smell just as nice, and stepping out the door to that scent this time of year is uplifting.
Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery notes that Sarcococca confusa has not been seen in the wild and, in fact, is probably a hybrid of two other Sarcococca species, S. ruscifolia var. chinensis and S. hookeriana var. digyna. Given the variety name, I love how you can see two styles sticking from each of these berries.