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Cytisus Scoparius, Scotch Broom


A good bee plant and food plant for many caterpillars, it provides the food for the larvae of the green hairstreak butterfly.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Dislikes root disturbance, especially when more than 20cm tall. It is best to plant out into their permanent positions as early as possible.

 Edible uses

The flower buds are pickled and used as a substitute for capers. They can also be added to salads. 
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.
Some caution is advised, some reports say broom contains mild toxins.

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