1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Broom
|←Brooks's|| 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4
|See also Broom (shrub) on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
BROOM, known botanically as Cytisus, or Sarothamnus, scoparius, a member of the natural order Leguminosae, a shrub found on heaths and commons in the British Isles, and also in Europe (except the north) and temperate Asia. The leaves are small, and the function of carbon-assimilating is shared by the green stems. The bright yellow flowers scatter their pollen by an explosive mechanism; the weight of a bee alighting on the flower causes the keel to split and the pollen to be shot out on to the insect's body. When ripe the black pods explode with a sudden twisting of the valves and scatter the seeds. The twigs have a bitter and nauseous taste and have long had a popular reputation as a diuretic; the seeds have similar properties.
"Butcher's broom," a very different plant, known botanically as Ruscus aculeatus, is a member of the natural order Liliaceae. It is a small evergreen shrub found in copses and woods, but rare in the southern half of England. The stout angular stems bear leaves reduced to small scales, which subtend flattened leaf-like branches (cladodes) with a sharp apex. The small whitish flowers are borne on the face of the cladodes, and are succeeded by a bright red berry.