Mountain Box – Pachistima myrsinthes

Bittersweet Family – Celastraceae

Actual flower size: 1/4 inch across

Actual flower size: 1/4 inch across

Mountain Box is also called Mountain Boxwood, Oregon Box(wood), False Box(wood), and Myrtle Boxwood.  The Latin name is sometimes spelled Paxistima myrsinthes.

Plant Description: Mountain Box is a short, compact, mounded shrub, rarely more than 2 feet tall. The branches can be either erect or prostrate, are thin and angled, reddish-brown, 4-ridged, and very leafy. The small (1/2 to 1 inch long), shiny, leathery leaves are opposite and oval, with serrated edges and margins slightly rolled under. Clusters of 1 to 3 tiny, maroon flowers grow in the leaf axils all along the branches.

Flower Description: The tiny, less than ¼ inch across, flowers are flattish, with 4 very short, green sepals, and 4 maroon petals which flare out. The 4 stamens are located at the outer edge of the flattened disk; the ovary is sunken in the disk and has 1 style and 1 stigma.

Ecology:  Mountain Box grows from sea level to timberline, but mostly mid-mountain, in dry to moist places on rocky slopes and along the edges of meadows, and in coniferous forests.

Note: The branches are often used in floral arrangements, which has reduced the populations near urban areas. The flowers are fragrant.

Mountain Box Gallery

Photo Information:

#2837: May 25, 2002, Easton, I-90;

#4296, #4299, and #4301: June 2, 2009, Iron Goat-Martin Creek, US 2, Skykomish.

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