Other Names: Scotch Broom, Irish Broom, Broomtops, Besom, Sarothamnus scoparius, Spartium scoparium, Sarothamnus bourgaei, Cytisus scoparius, Sarothamnus vulgaris,
Poisonous. The plant is of extremely low or zero toxicity.
Habitat: British Isles, Europe and naturalized in North America, South Africa and parts of Asia.
Description of Broom:
Cytisus scoparius is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2.4 m (7ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Aug to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
Succeeds in most soils, preferring a fairly good but not rich soil. Prefers a poor well-drained soil. Succeeds in slightly acid, neutral and limy soils but dislikes shallow soils over chalk. Plants are strongly calcifuge according to other reports and intolerant of a pH much above 6.5. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates some shade. Plants succeed in exposed conditions, and are very tolerant of maritime exposure. Plants have a deep root system, they are very drought tolerant once established and grow well on dry banks . Tolerates a smoky atmosphere, growing well in polluted areas . Plants are hardy to about -20°c . A number of named forms have been developed for their ornamental value . New leaves are formed in April but these soon drop off the plant, photosynthesis being carried out by means of the green stems . Very tolerant of cutting, it regenerates quickly from the base . Plants are usually killed by fire but the seeds quickly germinate after the fire and rapidly become established . A good bee plant and food plant for many caterpillars , it provides the food for the larvae of the green hairstreak butterfly . Ants are attracted to the seeds, feeding on the juicy attachment that holds them to the pods and thus distributing the seed[ . Dislikes root disturbance, especially when more than 20cm tall . 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.
Propagation of Broom:
Seed – 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, October/November in a frame. Layering.
Culinary uses of Broom:
Edible Uses: Coffee; Condiment.The flower buds are pickled and used as a substitute for capers. They can also be added to salads. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. The tender green tops of the plant have been used like hops to give a bitter flavour to beer and to render it more intoxicating. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Collection: May be gathered throughout the spring, summer and autumn. The tops may be dried in the sun or by heat.
Actions: Cardioactive diuretic, hypertensive, peripheral vasoconstrictor, astringent.
Part Used: Flowering tops.
Indications: Broom is a valuable remedy where there is a weak heartand low blood pressure. Since it is also a diuretic and produces peripheral constriction of the blood vessels while increasing the efficiency of each stroke of the heart, it can be used where water retention occurs due to heart weakness. Broom is used in cases of over-profuse menstruation.
King’s Dispensatory warns against high dosage as it can cause unwanted symptoms of impaired vision, vomiting and profuse sweating.
Broom can be combined with Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn Berries when treating the heart.
Preparations & Dosage of Broom:
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l teaspoonful of the dried herb and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.
Basketry, Broom, Dye, Essential, Fibre, Paper, Repellent, Soil stabilization, Tannin, Wood
An excellent fibre is obtained from the bark, it is used in the manufacture of paper, cloth and nets. It is not as strong as the fibre from the Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) . The fibre is obtained from the root according to other reports . The bark fibre is used to make paper, it is 2 – 9mm long. The branches are harvested in late summer or autumn, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The fibres are cooked for 3 hours in lye then put in a ball mill for 3 hours. The paper is pale tan in colour . The bark is a good source of tannin. A yellow and a brown dye are obtained from the bark. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowering stem . A green dye is obtained from the leaves and young tops . 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 . Growing well on dry banks and on steep slopes, it is an effective sand binder and soil stabiliser. Broom is one of the first plant to colonize sand dunes by the coast . The plant attracts insects away from nearby plants. The var. prostratus (= C. scoparius maritimus?) makes a good fast growing ground cover plant to 30cm tall, though it needs weeding in its first year . The cultivar ‘Andreanus Prostratus’ can also be used . Wood – very hard, beautifully veined . The plant seldom reaches sufficient size for its wood to be of much value, but larger specimens are valued by cabinet makers and for veneer .
Esoteric uses of Broom:
Purification, wind spells, divination and protection. Sprinkle an infusion of broom tops around the home to clear away all evil.
- Quinolizidine alkaloids; sparteine, lupanine, l3-hydroxy-lupanine, isosparteine, ammodendrine, N-methylangustifoline, dihydro-lupanine and various derivatives.
- Phenethylamines such as tyramine, hydroxytyramine, epinine and salsolidine
- Isoflavone glycosides including genistein, 3′-0-methylorobol, 7-glucosyl-3-0- methylorobol, scoparin and sarothamnoside
- Other flavonoids such as quercitin, isoquercitin and spiraeoside
- Essential oil, containing cis-3-hexen-l-ol, l-octen-3-ol, benzylalcohol, phenol, cresols, guiacol, eugenol, isovaleric acid and benzoic acid
- Miscellaneous; caffeic and p-coumaric acids, tannins and pigments. The seeds contain lectins (phytohaemagglutinins).