|Binomial name||Cytisus scoparius|
Other Common Names:
The other common names for the shrub broom are aka Banal, Basam, Bealadh (Gael), Bisom, Bizzom, Breeam, Broom, Broom Flowers, Broom Tops, Browne, Brum, Common Broom, Green Broom, Irish Tops, Link and Retama.
The broom has also called by another scientific name "planta genista" in old records. This name is derived from the Plantagenet kings who used this plant as an emblem.
Cytisus scoparius is a short perennial shrub that grows up to 2 m tall. The green branches are stiff, slender and 5-angled. The stems remain green throughout the year. Leaves are sparse, hairy when young, alternate, with lower leaves stalked and being divided into 3 oblong-lanceolate leaflets; upper leaves are stalkless with one lanceolate leaflet which is obovate in shape. The flowers of Cytisus scoparis are usually bright yellow are either solitary or paired in the upper axils of the plant, forming long, terminal racemes. The flowers measure 2-2.5 cm in length. The dilapidate calyx is glabrous and measures 7 mm long.
Cytisus scoparius is native to the British Isles and central and southern Europe. It covers a wide range of area. The broom is widely distributed in British Columbia, western U.S., from Maine to Michigan and south from Alabama to Georgia. Thus it is occurs in all of the New England states.
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,212 meters. Broom thrives best in dry sandy soils and grows well in full sunlight. It can be found along roadsides, coastal sites, disturbed sites, pastures and dry scrubland.
The plant thrives best in slightly acid, neutral and limy soils but dislikes shallow soils over chalk. Plants have a deep root system, they are very drought tolerant once established and grow well on dry banks. They are usually killed by fire but the seeds quickly germinate after the fire and rapidly become established. Seed are best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame.Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours in warm water then cold stratify for 1 month and sow in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 4 weeks at 20�c.Seedlings should be potted up as soon as possible since plants quickly become intolerant of root disturbance. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late summer if they have made sufficient growth, otherwise in late spring of the following year. The seed has a long viability. Seed can also be sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in the late summer and autumn. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 4 - 7 cm with a heel, August in a frame. Produces roots in the spring. Pot up as soon as possible. Cuttings of mature wood take place in October/November in a frame followed by layering. It is best to plant out into their permanent positions as early as possible. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
The bright yellow flowers of the Cytsisus scoparius are generally in bloom between April to June.
Pests and Diseases
Absence of natural enemies and other pests and diseases are believed to be an important factor that influences the weediness of broom in its range.Occassionally they are said to be affected by other factors like watershed, land slides and sediment deposition.
The plant as a whole is used both for its medicinal and commercial applications.
• Broom is used as a hallucinogenic, the flowering tops being smoked as with marijuana.
• Broom is used to regulate arrhythmias associated with low blood pressure.
• It is used in treating acute constipation, fluid rentention and edema related to heart problems and gout.
• It helps in treating excessive menstrual bleeding as well as hemorrhaging after delivery, hemophilia, rheumatism, gall stones, liver disorders, enlarged spleen, respiratory conditions, snakebites, and as a blood purifier.
• Broom acts upon the electrical conductivity of the heart, slowing and regulating the transmission of the impulses.
• The tips of flowering shoots are cardiotonic, cathartic, diuretic, emetic and vasoconstrictor.
• The plant is used internally in the treatment of heart complaints, and is especially used in conjunction with Convallaria majalis.
• The plant is also strongly diuretic, stimulating urine production and thus countering fluid retention and also to prevent blood loss after childbirth.
• In homeopathy it is used for treating angina, arteriosclerosis, and stiff muscles.
• The plant is made into an ointment to dispel lice
• The flower buds and flowers of Cytisus scoparius have been used as a salad ingredient, raw or pickled, and were a popular ingredient for salmagundi.
• The fibre from the bark, is used in the manufacture of paper, cloth and nets.
• The bark is a good source of tannin and yields a yellow and a brown dye.
• The branches are used to make baskets, brushes, brooms and besoms.
• They are also sometimes used for thatching roofs and as substitutes for reeds in making fences or screens.
• An essential oil from the flowers is used in perfumery.
• The green tops were used as part of the winter food supply for livestock.
• In ancient times the flower buds were pickled or preserved in salt (washed or boiled before use) and eaten as capers.
• The seeds were once used as a substitute for coffee.
By the early Middle Ages it had become a part of Welsh and Anglo-Saxon medicine. It was mentioned in the London Pharmacopoeia of 1618 and continued to be included in the British Pharmacopoeia.
It was considered unlucky to use the base of the plant as a crude broom in full bloom. At one time it was grown as a shelter for game and as wind-break for newly planted shrubs until they were properly hardened. Broom has also been used in religious rites, such as temple purification. At weddings and hand fastenings the plant was tied up in bright ribbons as a symbolic representation of the union; also as the bunch over which the hand fasting couple jump during the ceremony. Has also been used as an herb to invoke Blodewwedd.