Broom
(Cytisus scoparius)
Simple
Spiny/absent
Not spiny
Compound
Trifoliate

leaves

looped style

bush

flowers

fruits

distribution map

The leaves, if present, are trifoliate with a short stalk and are found at the bottom of the shoots.  But the upper leaves may be reduced to a single stalkless leaflet. Each leaflet is 6-20 mm long, usually hairless.

ID check

Broom is an erect shrub up to 3 m high, with much-branched, wiry, green stems which are hairless, narrow, 5-angled and often leafless. Broom is typical of light, sandy, acid soils on heaths and in open woodland. It is now frequently planted to stabilise new roadside banks.

The bushes are covered in masses of yellow, pea-like flowers, 2 cm long, in May and June.

Each flower has a style with a loop in it (see diagram).

The pods, which ripen in September, are 2.5-4 cm long. They open explosively with an audible crack.

Facts

  • The seeds have juicy appendages which are a favorite food of ants: they are therefore dispersed by these insects.

  • A very hairy prostrate form of broom may be found on the cliffs of W.Cornwall, Lundy, Pembroke, W.Cork and the Channel Isles.

  • The whip-like twigs can be used to make brooms.

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