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Portuguese Broom Cytisus scoparius

Phonetic Spelling
sy-TIS-us sko-PAIR-ee-us
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Scotch broom is native to Europe.  It was introduced in the US as an ornamental plant in the 1800's and has since spread to a point of being declared invasive on the West Coast and some midwest states. In the eastern USA it is listed as a noxious weed in some states such as GA and SC.  It has spread to areas such as roadsides, pastures, dry scrubland and other disturbed sites.  It has been successful in competing for growing room on dry, sandy soil due to its nitrogen-fixing ability.

A medium-sized plant can produce thousands of seeds per year.  When the seed pods have dried they will burst open, spreading the seed over a wide area and can stay viable for up to 20 years.  The seed is then carried by animals and insects, such as ants, to further its spread.  Cutting the plant back, freezing temperatures and even wildfires cannot keep the plant from spouting.  

The shrub will grow 4-8 feet tall with a broom-like appearance and a rounded crown.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious insect problems.  Susceptible to leaf and stem blight. It is a short-lived shrub but tends to reseed itself.  It can be weedy and rapidly grow to crowd out native plants.  If plants are unwanted, pull them before they flower and set seed.  Some non-seeding cultivars are available. The invasive nature of this plant will diminish grazing habitat and is also a concern for the increased risk of wildfires.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pea-like flowers in late spring along green stems
  • Leaves trifoliate on lower stem, one leaflet on upper stem
  • Stems have 'twizzler stick' appearance
  • Twiggy, mounded shrub with arching stems
  • Flowers yellow, or red, pink hues

 

 

 

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Burkwoodii'
    Red flowers
  • 'Moonlight'
    Less aggressive
'Burkwoodii', 'Moonlight'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#invasive#poisonous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#weedy#deciduous shrub#salt tolerant#high maintenance#erosion control#fast growing#aggressive#multistemmed#self-seeding#acidic soils tolerant#poor soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#bee friendly#wet soils intolerant#broadleaf#showy
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Burkwoodii'
    Red flowers
  • 'Moonlight'
    Less aggressive
'Burkwoodii', 'Moonlight'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#invasive#poisonous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#weedy#deciduous shrub#salt tolerant#high maintenance#erosion control#fast growing#aggressive#multistemmed#self-seeding#acidic soils tolerant#poor soils tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#bee friendly#wet soils intolerant#broadleaf#showy
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cytisus
    Species:
    scoparius
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Erosion control. Fiber from the bark is used to manufacture paper, cloth and nets as well as to create dyes.  Branches can be made into brooms, baskets and brushes and also in construction of thatched roofs.  The flowering stems can be used to make a yellow dye while the leaves and young tops are used for a green dye.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern Europe
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant is pollinated by bees.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Buffer
    Colorful
    Screening
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Open
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Its fruit is a 2" flattened pea-like green pod with hairy margins.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The 1 in. glowing, golden yellow sweet pea shaped flowers bloom in late spring to early summer on old wood. Some cultivars have red, pink, or gold flowers. Rich yellow, pea-like, axillary, 1/2-3/4" diameter. They may grow as a solitary bloom or in pairs.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The alternate, trifoliate, bright to medium green leaves are not highly visible, blending in with the green stems. The compound leaves have 3 leaflets.
  • Bark:
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Bark Description:
    Mature plants have thin, smooth bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    Evergreen, slender, multi-stemmed, 5-angled grass-green erect stems. Slender, green, ridged and twisted; older stems brownish.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN! Vomiting, excitement, muscular weakness, convulsions.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Quinolizidine alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds
    Stems