The striking appearance of broom (scientific name: Cytisus scoparius) is only partly determined by the long, thin, flexible evergreen stems. It is particularly the large bright yellow flowers that appear all over the shrub that make it such an extravagant spring bloomer. The flowers have a sweet honey-like fragrance, and change into black pods in the autumn. The shrub can reach a height of between 60 cm and 2 metres and flowers in May and June. Sometimes, if it’s having a moment of madness, it flowers again in September and October.
Sandy soil pioneer
Broom is a member of the legume family, a genus with around 50 species. The shrub grows mainly in Europe, as well as other temperate regions. It thrives on slopes, verges, alongside railways and forest edges, but also in the dunes - it’s a plant that can easily survive on poor soil. At the height of summer the pods burst with a snap and the seeds are scattered. This is how broom sows itself.
- The scientific name Cytisus is derived from ‘kutisos’, Greek for clover, which broom resembles somewhat from a distance.
- As the name suggests, broom’s twigs were once used to make brooms for sweeping.
- Broom is the symbol of the royal Plantagenet family that ruled England between 1154 and 1485.