The boxes are found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central America. They are quite commonly used for hedges and topiary, and the dense wood (called "boxwood" in all countries) is valued for wood carving. They have small leaves opposite each other, usually rounded and leathery. The flowers are small and yellow-green, with both sexes present on a plant, and thus boxwoods are usually grown for their foliage. They are particularly favoured for hedges and topiary in formal gardens. Given time, neat low hedging can grow to enormous size, as at Powis Castle in north Wales. Often, however, they are kept dwarfed, as in the famous gardens at Château Villandry in France.
The most familiar species is Buxus sempervirens, the English Box, Common Box, or Common Boxwood, which comes in both "American" and "European" types.
The American Boxwood Society specializes in the study of boxwoods, and has produced a number of publications.