RUSCUS HYPOPHYLLUM - A WONDERFUL PLANT ON EARTH - USES AND BENEFITS
RUSCUS HYPOPHYLLUM , BROAD LEAFED BUTCHER’S BROOM
Ruscus hypophyllum is indigenous to Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa Province (formerly the North West Frontier Province) as well as to the Canary Isles, Turkey, Sicily, Malta and Gozo, south west Spain, and parts of North Africa. It is closely related to Butcher’s Broom which grows in Britain, and also to asparagus. There are two other Ruscus species which grow in Europe, these being Ruscus hypoglossum (big tongue) and Ruscus aculeata. These plants are used for their green foliage and the novelty value of their berries which appear to grow on their leaves. The truth is that the leaves are not true ones, but are cladodes, which are flattened leaf-like shoots. They have white through to blue flowers which also look as though they are growing on leaves. It is an unusual plant.
In Pakistan they are not used for their medicinal properties, but are wasted, and this at a time when the West has woken up to the benefits of the ruscogenins found in the rhizomes of the Ruscus genus of plants. They are used for animal fodder and duel, but the rhizomes of the European species of Ruscus are used in herbal medicines because they have anti-inflammatory properties and are vein constrictors. They are useful in the treatment of varicose veins and piles and research is ongoing to discover what other properties they may have.
So far seven steroidal saponins have been isolated from Ruscus hypophyllum (which means broad or big leaved) rhizomes, plus one known glycoside. It seems that this plant along with the others in this Ruscus group can be of great benefit to us. The cultivation of this plant could help Pakistan’s rural economy if the plants were cultivated for the health market.