Broom: a clean sweep | Nature Notes from Dorset

Broom (Cytisus scoparius) is very much like a spineless gorse and you could be forgiven for dismissing it as gorse at first glance. Both are members of the pea family and have bright yellow pea-shaped flowers but that is where the similarity ends. They may be related but not closely; broom has no spines, it has totally smooth stems without even any hairs. Its stems are green all year round and it has tiny leaves which none if the gorses have. Broom looks as if it is evergreen but technically it is not, it does shed its leaves but because the stems stay green it gives the impression of being an evergreen shrub.
Out on the heaths from April until July it is common on dry, acid soils across the British Isles. On the Dorset heaths it tends to be patchy but where it does grow it is likely to be very common. It can be one of the first species to colonise an area affected by fire. On hot sunny days in August (if we get any) you can hear the snap of the seed pods as they dry out and burst open to throw the seeds far and wide.
Finally, why is it called broom? 

Read more: Broom: a clean sweep | Nature Notes from Dorset

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