Pungitopo, Rusco – Ruscus aculeatus – Ruscus aculeatus – Garden plants – Pungitopo, Rusco – Ruscus aculeatus – Shrubs


General characteristics of the lancing device

The Ruscus aculeatus is a small shrub: its height can vary from 30 to 100 cm. Its cylindrical stems remain green in every season; from these depart formations called cladodes, very similar to leaves: in reality, they are transformed stems. They have taken on a flat, oval shape with a sharp tip. They are a beautiful dark green shiny and remain on the plant even during the cold season.

It is a dioecious plant: some carry only female flowers (and then fruits), others only male. However, there are also hermaphrodite specimens.

The flowers, in any case, are formed on the cladodes: they are greenish-white or mauve, inconspicuous. They appear between April and May; in the feminine individuals, during the winter, they transform then in fruits, that is, big round berries of bright red colour. Each one contains 2 or 3 seeds.

It was once very common in the spontaneous state, but both the intensive use that was made of it in the countryside (to protect crops from mice with spines or for the manufacture of brooms) and the collection for medicinal purposes, have made it increasingly rare. In some areas it is classified as a protected flora and cannot be harvested at all.

It grows mostly in broadleaf woods (especially in oak and holm oak woods) or in arid and stony areas, on calcareous soils, at rather low altitudes (generally below 600 metres a.s.l.).

Currently it is also cultivated for medicinal and ornamental purposes. Its branches, in fact, are used for the realization of floral compositions or crowns, especially in the winter period.


Famiglia, genere, specie

 Ruscus aculeatus

Tipo di pianta



 Europe and the Middle East




 Eretto o coprisuolo


 Giardino ombroso, naturale, sipe bassa, gruppi in macchia mediterranea

Altezza a maturità

 Fino a 1 metro

Velocità di crescita




Necessità idrica



 Abbastanza rustica in ambient asciutto




 Calcareo, ben drenato; adattabile

pH suolo

 Da neutro a subalcalcalino

Umidità suolo


Umidità ambientale



 Divisione, prelievo getti laterali, semina

  • pungitopo Nome: Ruscus aculeatus L. Famiglia: Liliacee.Nomi communi: Piccasorci, asparago pazzo, erba cocca, linguetta.Habitat: A barefoot zone ends at 800 metres of altitude, and the parties use it: I can and will use it…
  • Foglie e rizoma del pungitopo Watering is a very important aspect in the cultivation of the lance and must necessarily follow certain rules. For the whole summer, irrigation must be carried out in sufficient quantities.

  • Pianta di pungitopo The scientific name of the lancing device is Ruscus aculeatus and belongs to the large family of Liliaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean maquis but has long been naturalized in the southwest of the…

Flowers and berries

fiore rusco The ruscus aculeatus is a dioecious plant, this means that male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.

The flowers of the mouse stinger are small, white and the female ones, in October, turn into red berries, shiny that can last until March. They are certainly the best known feature of the rustic plants.

The berries of the mouse bite give the plant a very decorative appearance, which is often used in Christmas decorations.

The rhizome

rusco The rhizome of the mouse stinger is used for treatments with natural remedies, as it has diuretic properties. For this reason, rusco is used in the treatment of ascites, edemas, dropsy, dysurias and bladder stones. The plant of ruscus aculeatus also has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.






Berry production








Sprouts collection


Harvesting branches with berries



ruscus aculeatus The rustic plants are quite rustic and well suited to exposure in both sunny and shady areas. It is a variety that tolerates well the cold and can be buried in pots even from November to March.

In almost all of Italy it is recommended to have a position protected from heat and light, especially during the summer period. The ideal is to insert the ruscus under the broadleaf trees or in the middle of the shade. It withstands very well the morning light, but it is always good to avoid exposing it to the afternoon light. Only in locations above 800 meters above sea level is a good idea to choose a warmer location.


As far as the watering of the lance plants is concerned, it is better to proceed frequently in the summer season, especially if they are young plants or cultivated in pots, whilst in the winter season it is better to thin the water supply. It is important to check that there are no water stagnations, which could compromise the plant.

In the spring it is advisable to provide liquid fertilizer that gives the nutrients necessary for the proper development of the plant.

Like many typical plants of the Mediterranean flora, the Bungle Mouse is very resistant to drought. It requires, indeed, a very dry soil: it is therefore very suitable for all gardens without access to water sources.

The advice is to follow him during the first year of planting by initially irrigating every two weeks, in the absence of rain. Afterwards we can intervene even only monthly. From the second year our contribution will be absolutely superfluous: a well freed mouse lance does not require any irrigation.

Soil Juniper

pungitopo The rusco is a plant without particular pretensions in terms of soil, in fact it adapts to all soils as long as they are well drained. However, it prefers calcareous soils.

The mouse prod wants a very draining substratum, which tends to be calcareous. If the one in our garden is too compact, we can extract it and mix in a good quantity of gravel (large and thinner) and some river sand. For the cultivation in pots excellent mixtures are those specific for citrus or cacti, to which we can add a little ‘of crushed stone or expanded clay and a few handfuls of soil improver.

Multiplication of the Poinçon

The multiplication of ruscus aculeatus takes place in September or March by division of the heads or by transplanting the young shoots that come off the mother plants. Reproduction by seed is carried out in September but gives results in much longer times.

They are planted in groups of three to five, using plants of both sexes.

Sowing can be carried out in the autumn (burying the whole berry) or in the spring (placing the individual grains in the ground). We always keep it moist. However, the chances of success are very variable: many seeds, in fact, are sterile or not very vital. It is therefore important to use a large quantity of them.

The division is much simpler and faster: you have to extract the bush from the ground using a pitchfork. Finally, cut the rhizome into several parts, making sure that each part has at least one root and one jet.

Alternatively, the individual “towers” produced in spring, with a section of roots, can be taken with a spade.

Climate for the Poungle Mouse

Cultivation of the mouse prod is not difficult, provided that it reproduces its natural habitat as much as possible.

The mouse lance grows spontaneously at altitudes that are not too high: it tends to prefer warm climates and arid soils. The individuals most sensitive to frost and cold winds are the young ones: adult plants, however, are able to withstand even very harsh climates, provided that the environment is not excessively humid.

If we live in the North or above 600/800 meters above sea level it is advisable to place the subject in a well-lit position during the day and take particular care of the drainage.

Pests and Diseases

pungitopo With regard to the parasites and diseases that can affect the mouse stinging plant, it is correct to say that this variety is unlikely to be subject to serious problems, but attention must be paid to the root rot that creates a sudden collapse of the plant followed by leaf decay.

Another problem may be powdery mildew which causes the appearance of white and powdery spots on the leaves and on the stems and leaves to dry out.

In this respect, the mouse stinger is very reliable: it is practically immune to disease and completely ignored by parasites. You can make cultivation mistakes, but even in this respect it is very tolerant.

Planting of the mouse

Planting can be done in autumn or spring. The first option is to be preferred because it ensures better rooting and greater vegetative growth when the summer arrives.

We proceed instead in spring if we live in the mountains (in very wet and cold areas) and if our soil has some defect in drainage.

You have to dig a hole three times as wide and deep as the bread of the earth. On the bottom we create a thick draining layer with gravel. We insert the mouse stick and fill it with any soil that may have been modified to make it ideal.


ruscus hypoglossum R. Hypoglossum native to Europe, Italy and Asia Minor, has a height of thirty to fifty centimeters, suffruticose plant with oblong cladodes lanceolate not pointed.

The flowers are yellow and bloom in spring, followed by small red berries. It grows in wooded areas in completely shaded positions; it can be cultivated with ferns.

Fertilization Mouse frog

It does not require specific action in this respect. Young plants can benefit from the spring administration of a mild granular fertilizer, balanced in its elements.

Pruning of the Poultry

pungitopo At the end of the winter it is useful to eliminate dry and older jets, to give the shrub a good general appearance and stimulate the emission of new branches. We always work with long, very thick gloves as the tip of the leaves is extremely pointed.

Butcher’s broom, Rusco – Ruscus aculeatus: Possible uses of the Butcher’s broom

pungitopo The mouse prod is used both in phytotherapy and in the culinary field. It has been known and appreciated since ancient times as it is already mentioned in medical treatises written by Pliny the Elder and Galen.

As a medicinal plant

The most appreciated part is certainly the rhizome. The medicines that are obtained seem to be excellent vasoconstrictors, anti-inflammatories and diuretics. They are therefore used to alleviate problems related to poor circulation such as swelling, phlebitis, venous insufficiency and gout. They are also included in lotions or creams to treat skin imperfections, such as weak capillaries and couperose.

They also affect the length and regularity of female periods.

The rhizome must be picked up in the middle of autumn, washed well and left to dry slowly. Finally, it should be chopped and pulverized and then used in hot drinks (decoctions, herbal teas) or mixed with alcohol.

The roots of ruscus, fennel, celery, asparagus and parsley were used to make a much appreciated medicinal syrup.

In the kitchen

From a gastronomic point of view, the most interesting part is the sprouts, very similar to those of asparagus, which are harvested in May. They have a very particular taste, bitterish, but pleasant. In some regions they are considered authentic delicacies.

They should be boiled and then sautéed in butter (adding a little cheese or oil and lemon). They can also be used as an ingredient in excellent omelettes.

It is ideal to collect and use them as soon as possible, but it is possible to keep them in the fridge for two or three days, wrapped in a damp cloth.

In the past, berries were used as a substitute for coffee: they were harvested, roasted and ground to make a hot drink.

For home decoration

The branches of a mouse prod are very decorative and are particularly appreciated during the winter months for their beautiful rose berries, suitable for the Christmas period. They are often combined or used in place of holly or mistletoe berries. If we have a plant we can collect the individual branches at about 3 cm from the ground and then place them in a pot, with fresh water: they can be stored quietly for several weeks.

If we want to cultivate the ruscus especially for this aspect of it, we choose a hermaphrodite specimen: in this way we will have the certainty of always having the berries. A good alternative is also the Danae racemosa, very similar, hermaphrodite and without spines.

Other uses

Once upon a time, the branches of the mouse were used to make rustic brooms and tools for cleaning the chimneys.

Note on collection

In many regions of Italy, the European lance is a protected plant, as it is strongly threatened. It is therefore advisable to ask the authorities before harvesting branches, shoots or fruits.

  • pungitopo pianta Watering is a very important aspect in the cultivation of the lance and must necessarily follow
    Visit : Mouse prod plant

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