Sarcococca hookeriana

Common Name: sweet box 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Buxaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Tibet to eastern Himalayas
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Best grown in organically rich, acidic, moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Leaves lose luster in full sun. Best with consistent moisture. Established plants have some drought tolerance. Cold hardiness for var. humilis is good (-10 F). Prune in spring after flowering to maintain attractive shape.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Sarcococca hookeriana commonly called sweetbox is a low-growing, broadleaf evergreen shrub to 5' tall that spreads, albeit slowly, by stolons to 6' wide or more over time in shady areas of the landscape. Lustrous, lanceolate, leathery, dark green leaves (to 3 1/2" long and to 3/4" wide) are evergreen. Tiny, apetalous, unisexual, tubular, fragrant, white flowers (1/2" long) bloom in the leaf axils in March-April. Female flowers give way to globose, shiny, black fruits (drupes to 1/3" wide). Native to western Himalayas and China.

Genus name comes from the Greek words sarkos meaning flesh and kokkos meaning a berry in reference to the fleshy fruits.

Specific epithet honors Sir Joseph Hooker (1817-1911).


No serious insect or disease problems.


Evergreen ground cover for woodland gardens with fragrant flowers and quality foliage. Shrub borders. Low hedge. Shady parts of cottage gardens. Shady slopes.