Scientific name: Ruscus aculeatus

Common names: Kneeholy, Knee Holly, Kneeholm, Jew’s Myrtle, Sweet Broom, Pettigee

Ayurvedic names: Ruscus Aculeatus L., Bringaraj herbal, Knee Holly, Broom flower, Broom Tops, Sweet Broom, Irish Broom, Juice Myrtle, 

Chinese names: China Butcher’s Broom

Bangladesh names: 

Arabic names:     الأس البري (al’as al barree)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Root, young shoots

Collection:  The root or rhizome is usually collected in Autumn

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: Up to 1 metre

Actions: Aperient, deobstruant, diaphoretic, diuretic

Known Constituents: Usually >1% total sapgenins expressed as ruscogenins (mixture of neoruscogenin (C27, H40, O4 and ruscogenin (C27, H42, O4)

Amines (hydroxytyramine).
Saponins (ruscogenins, ruscogenin, neoruscogenin).

Ruscogenin is thought to be the most active compound in this plant.

It contains steroidal saponins with the main compounds being ruscin (monodesmosidic spirostane type), ruscoside (bidesmosdic furostane type) with the corresponding aglycones (ruscogenin and neoruscogenin). 

Constituents Explained:



Native to North Africa.  A shrub that has been reclassified, once was a member of the lily family.  The name Butcher’s Broom comes from the tradition of binding the branches into bundles and sold to buthcers to sweep the floor.  The name Knee holy comes from the fact it grows to about knee height and has prickly leaves that resmble the holly plant. The name Jew’s myrtle believes to be derived from the fact it was used in the service for the feast of tabernacles

The root when dry is brownish-grey, 2-4 inches long and about 1.3 inch in diamter.  Its taste is sweet at first.

The stem is erect, strong and from the upper part sends out much short branches.  

The leaves are stiff.  The flowers are small and greenish-white and commonly flower in spring.  The female flowers have red berries and the seeds are distributed by birds.  It tends to grow in waste wplaces It grows well in shade, although it is quite hardy and will grow in almost any condition.

The corolla has six clefts????   The berries grow roughly the same size as cherries.  The shoots have been eaten in a way that is similar to asparagus.

The flowers are dioecious (the plant is either male or female, so both plants must be grown for seeds)

Traditional Use:

Butchers broom has commonly been used for to help promote circulation, contract varicose veins and reduce fluid retention in the lower half.  This use sees its use extended to hemoorooids.

It has been used as a diuretic and mild laxative, as well as to reduce inflammation and increase perspiration.  Externally it has been used on hemmoroids

Also it has been used for the female reproductive organs, urinary conditions, jaundice, the respiratory system and the lymphatic system.

Internally and externally it has been used to knit bones and joints.

Clinical Studies:

A prospective, multicenter and open clinical study on clinical and capillaroscopic evaluation of an association of Ruscus aculeatus, hesperidin methylchalcone (HMC) and ascorbic acid in chronic venous insufficiency was conducted.

Chronic venous insufficiency patients were studied using clinical, etiological, anatomical, physiological classification (CEAP) symptom scale. Symptomatology, CEAP scale, and baseline, 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-week skin capillaroscopy were assessed. Treatment consisted of two capsules per day of Ruscus aculeatus 150 mg/HMC 150 mg/ascorbic acid 100 mg during 8 weeks.

A total of 124 patients were studied, 109 female (89.28%), with a mean age of 52.5. Initial intense reports were 79% pain, 85% heaviness, 74% cramps, 82% edema, decreasing to 20%, 12%, 8% and 14%, respectively, within two weeks, and symptomatology being absent at the end of treatment. 

Capillaroscopy changes at treatment completion were: 98% to 20% inter-capillary fluid decrease; 80% to 20% efferent loop thickening; 5% to 2% peri-capillary bed, and 5% to 4% mega-capillaries.

Severe symptom decrease started from the second week until there were no symptoms at the end of treatment. It is the first time morphologic changes were observed in chronic venous insufficiency through capillaroscopy following a pharmacological intervention. Capillary-level effect was proportional to symptom decrease. Improvement was seen from the second week of treatment.


Aguilar-Peralta GR, Arevalo-Gardoqui J, Llamas-Macias FJ, Navarro-Ceja VH, Mendoza-Cisneros SJ, Martinez-Macias CG. “Clinical And Capillaroscopic Evaluatio In The Treatment Of Chronic Venous Insufficiency With Ruscus Aculeatus, Hesperidin Methylchalcone, And Ascorbic Acid in Venous Insufficiency Treatment Of Ambulatory Patients.” 2007 December