Plants small, usually much branched, glabrous trees or shrubs. Leaves opposite, entire, leathery. Inflorescences short, compact spikes, most with a terminal pistillate flower surrounded by bracts in the axils of which there are 2-4 staminate flowers or each inflorescence unisexual. Staminate flowers: tepals 4, 2 outer and 2 inner, equal or unequal; stamens 4-6(-10), each (or more than 1) opposite a tepal; anthers sessile, subsessile, or on filaments, dorsifixed near the base, opening by longitudinal slits; ovary absent to rudimentary and truncate or 3-lobed. Pistillate flowers: tepals 4-6; staminodes absent; ovary 3-celled; styles 3; ovules 2 per cell. Fruits capsules, dehiscing longitudinally, valves with 2 apical horn-like projections (the remains of the styles); endocarp hard, separating from the softer exocarp at maturity. Seeds usually trigonus or ovoid-oblong, black and shiny at maturity.
Buxus includes about 30 species. It is widely distributed, growing in tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, Eurasia, and Central America.