Box is a dense evergreen shrub common throughout the region. It's slow growing, much-branched and foxy smelling. It can grow as low ground cover (on the slopes of the mountains above St André-les-Alpes), as bushes and small trees (like around St Vallier-de-Thiey, and can reach 5-6 m tall.
Box grew as trees in the bottom of the Gorges du Verdon, where the stumps were used for making boules (for petanque) at the turn of the (last) century. Other uses for the dense wood included chess pieces. Since medieval times, the low shrub has been used for hedges, low flower-bed borders and topiary.
Flower. Small (2 mm) yellow flowers grow in lateral clusters in the leaf axils; no petals.
Leaves. The leaves are short, opposite ovals, about 30 mm long, with hard shiny tops and dull on the bottom.
Habitat. Maquis, dry calcereous soil, hillsides and woodlands.