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Broom

Also called Scotch broom or Common Broom, is a member of the Fabaceae, or pea family. Not to be confused with Whin (gorse) which has the same golden-yellow flowers, Broom doesn’t have any of Whin’s sharp spines.

It likes a sunny position and dry sandy soil, often found on sandy heaths and waste ground all over the lowlands. It shares its nomenclature with Cytisus scoparius maritimus, a subspecies to be found on sea cliffs. They share the same attributes except that maritimus is a low growing shrub, rarely more than 40cm tall.

Green, strongly angled twigs with stalked trifoliate leaves about 5-15mm long. Its leaves shed in winter. The bright golden-yellow flowers grow in great profusion out of the leaf angles and resemble pea flowers, like those of the sweet pea, or vetch, which share the same lineage. The petals are bi-symmetric with long stamens and anthers. Sometimes red blotches can be found on the petals, but mainly they are completely yellow.

In late summer the seed pods appear at first flat and green like pea pods, and laterally covered in tiny white hairs, but as they ripen they turn black, bursting open, often with an audible pop, to broadcast the seeds away from the plant.

Its old French name Planta genista, is thought to be the origin of the name Plantagenet, given to Geoffrey, Duke of Normandy who fathered that Royal house in antiquity.

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