Broom - Cytisus scoparius is a poisonous plant
  Broom - Cytisus scoparius, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©1897 - Franz Eugen Köhler
Broom - Cytisus scoparius, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©2009 - MPF

Broom - Cytisus scoparius
Family - Fabaceae
Also known as - Saromanthus scoparius, Common Broom, Scotch Broom

This plant is poisonous

Small perennial leguminous shrub typically growing to 1-3m(3-9ft), with main stems up to 5cm (2in) thick, rarely 10cm (4in), common on heathlands and hedgerows favouring acid or sandy soils, gregarious growth at forest edges, sandy and stony slopes.  It has green shoots with small deciduous trifoliate leaves 5-15mm (in) long, and in spring and summer (April to June) is covered in profuse golden yellow flowers, ripening to seeds in hairy pea like thin pods which explode with an audible "crack" on sunny days during the autumn, forcibly throwing seed from the parent plant.

In some places outside of its native range, New Zealand, India, South America and Pacific Northwest of North America, it has become an ecologically destructive colonizing invasive species in grassland, shrub and woodland, and other habitats.  Biological control for broom has been investigated since the mid 1980s with a number of insect species being tested.

Cytisus scoparius contains toxic alkaloids that depress the heart and nervous system.  Being a legume, it fixes nitrogen in the soil by a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria.  It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, with several cultivars selected for variation in flower colour, including "Moonlight" with deep yellow flowers, "Andreanus" and "Firefly" with dark orange-red flowers, and growth habit, including "Pendula" with pendulous branchlets.  An invasive species.

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