Sarcococca confusa
Common name: 
Fragrant Sarcococca
Sweet Box
sar-ko-KOK-a con-FU-sa
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf evergreen, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m), densely branched, spreads by underground shoots.  Leaves alternate, simple, narrow, lanceolate, 3-5 cm long, lustrous green above, light green below.  White flowers not showy, lack petals, but very fragrant, open in winter, male flowers (towards shoot tips) with cream-colored anthers, female flowers have 2-3 styles.  Fruit ripen a year later, at first red, then turning black, shiny, oval, 8 mm long.
  • Shade.  Fairly drought tolerant.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (6b) 7      Origin of the species is somewhat confused, thought to have been collected by Ernest H. Wilson from the wild in China about 1908, but it has not been discovered in the wild.  Possibly a natural hybrid, but it comes true from seed. It is unusual that female flowers on the same branch may have either 2 or 3 stigmas.
  • According to Sunset Western Garden Book, S. confusa is often sold as S. ruscifolia, although they are similar in appearance, S. ruscifolia has red fruit.
  • sarcococca: from sarco, flesh, and kokkos: a berry (i.e., fleshy fruit).  confusa: confused, with other species.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: northwest corner of Cordley Hall.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • leafy shoot and twig

    leafy shoot and twig

  • shoots, comparison

    shoots, comparison

  • leaves and flowers

    leaves and flowers

  • flowering shoot

    flowering shoot

  • flowers


  • flowers, comparison

    flowers, comparison

  • ripening fruit, late fall

    ripening fruit, late fall

  • flowers and mature fruit

    flowers and mature fruit