Native to Mediterranean region. Unusual leafless plants with some value as small-scale ground cover, curiosity, or source of material for dried arrangements. These old favorites are usually not sold by garden centers, but rather passed around by gardeners. Flattened, leaflike branches do the work of leaves and bear tiny greenish white flowers in centers of upper surfaces. If male and female plants are present, or if you have a plant with male and female flowers, bright red (sometimes yellow) fruit follows the flowers. Plants spread widely by rhizomes. Tolerate competition from tree roots. Subject to chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins) in alkaline soil.
R. aculeatus. To 14 ft. tall, with branched stems. Spine-tipped leaves are 13 in. long, one-third as wide, leathery dull dark green. Fruit is in. across. 'Wheeler's Variety' is a self-fruiting form.
R. hypoglossum. To 1 ft., with unbranched stems. Leaves to 4 in. long, 1 in. wide, glossy green, not spine tipped. Fruit is in. across. Spreads faster than R. aculeatus. Superior as small-scale ground cover.