Paxistima myrsinites

Oregon boxwood


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Rosidae. Order - Celastrales. Family - Celastraceae (bittersweet). Genus Paxistima Raf. (paxistima). Species Paxistima myrsinites (Pursh) Raf. (oregon boxleaf).

Ecology: Oregon boxwood is a native, cool-season, evergreen shrub, with maroon flowers. It is low growing, reaching heights of 0.3-1 m, sometimes spreading, and densely branched. Its leaves are oblong and glabrous. Its fruit is a one- to two-seeded capsule. Oregon boxwood grows on dry to moist sites in shaded mountain areas as high as subalpine habitats, but can be found at sea level in California. It can grow in frost pockets in steep ravines or in open woods, ridgetops, and glades. Oregon boxwood is an indicator species in several western habitat types and plant communities. It is a climax shrub and can tolerate both sun and shade, but it usually indicates dry to moist, cool sites and well-drained soils.


Oregon boxwood is a shiny, low-statured shrub, 8 in.- 2 ft. high, with small, glossy, dark-green leaves arrayed in pairs along ascending branches. The tiny, maroon flowers, appearing in the spring to the South and in summer to the North, are borne in axillary clusters. They are not conspicuous, but the evergreen leaves are attractive both in summer and winter.

Mountain Lover is a member of the staff tree or bittersweet family (family Celastraceae), which includes shrubs, woody vines, and mostly small trees. Widespread, about 700 species; 7 native tree species and several shrub species in North America.


Fire effects: Oregon boxwood can survive low- to moderate-severity fires that do not consume the duff or raise the soil temperature too high. It can, however, be killed by severe fires. Oregon boxwood usually sprouts from its root crown or from buds on its taproot following low- to moderate-severity fires. Some seedling establishment via short-term viablity seed stored on-site may also occur.


Oregon boxwood stems can layer and root, and the shrub can be propagated easily through stem cuttings. Seeds are dispersed by gravity.

Species Distribution


USDA Plant Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (, 4 February 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds.  1993+.  Flora of North America North of Mexico.  19+ vols.  New York and Oxford.

Intermountain Herbarium
Consortium of Intermountain Herbaria. 2016. http// Accessed on February 04.

Burke Museum Plant Image Collection
The plant image collection at the Burke Museum, University of Washington.

Jepson Manual
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. $131.95, hardcover; 1600 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0520253124.