A broom isn’t just something you use to sweep your floors. It’s also a type of flower! Broom or genista, a genus of flowering deciduous plants in the legume family, is native to parts of Europe, North Africa and southwest Asia.
The plant can grow to a height of 3-5 feet tall and produces long, flexible, bright green branches and clusters of fragrant sweet pea-like flowers in the spring. Leaves are small and almost insignificant. Many of the species have yellow flowers, but some are white, orange, red or pink. In the summer, the flowers develop into pods and produce an abundance of seeds-up to 18 000 seeds a year! Pods containing the seeds will explode with a crackling sound when ripe, and disperse the seed.
Unlike most plants, the hardy broom thrives in poor soil and growing conditions. In fact, they don’t require much maintenance or care. They just need well-drained soil and a sunny location. They are ideal for drier climates and can tolerate droughts. These fast-growing plants are often used to revitalize wastelands. On the other hand, in some places, brooms are considered invasive weeds.
As a cultivated plant, broom would be suitable as borders in the garden. They would look attractive grown next to other shrubs, on slopes or in a rock garden.
As a cut flower, a broom branch can last 6-8 days. It is sensitive to ethylene gas; keep away from ripe fruits and veggies, dying flowers and drafts.
Fun Flower Facts about Broom (Genista):
- The name broom comes from the old German word for “thorny shrub.”
- The branches can be used to make brooms and baskets.
- The bark contains tannin, which was once used to tan leather.
- In the past, the seeds were once roasted and used as a coffee substitute and the shoots were used as a replacement for hops in the production of beer.
- Nowadays, the seeds and the leaves are considered toxic and can affect the nervous system and the heart.
- In some areas of North America, broom has been identified as an invasive weed due to its aggressive seed dispersal.
- Genista tinctoria or dyer’s bloom was once grown commercially to create a yellow dye.
- Broom can remove nitrogen from the air.