Native to the Himalayas, China. Grown for handsome, waxy, dark green leaves and tiny, powerfully fragrant, white blossoms that come in late winter or early spring, hidden in the foliage. Small, berrylike fruit follows the flowers. Useful in shaded areasunder overhangs, in entryways, beneath low-branching evergreen trees. Plants maintain slow, orderly growth and polished appearance in deepest shade. Grow best in organically enriched soil; very tough and drought-tolerant once established. Scale insects are the only pests. Deer leave it alone.
S. confusa. Quite similar to the species S. ruscifolia and generally sold as such. S. ruscifolia, however, produces red fruit, while that of S. confusa is black.
S. hookeriana. This rhizomatous species is known mainly for the following two outstanding variants, both of which bear glossy, blue-black fruit. S. h. humilis (S. humilis) is low growing, seldom more than 112 ft. high, and spreads to 8 ft. or more by underground runners. Branches are thickly set with pointed leaves 13 in. long, 1234 in. wide. Good ground cover. S. h. digyna is taller, to 5 ft. high and 6 ft. wide, with longer, narrower leaves. Its selection 'Purple Stem' has dark purple-pink young shoots and pink-tinged flowers.
S. ruscifolia. FRAGRANT SARCOCOCCA. LS, CS; USDA 8-9. Slow growth to 46 ft. high, 37 ft. wide. If grown against a wall, it will form a natural espalier, with branches fanning out to create patterns. Oval to elliptical leaves to 2 in. long, densely set on branches. Red fruit.