known botanically as Cytisus
, or Sarothamnus
, 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
, Common Broom. 1. Two-lipped calyx. 2. Broadly ovate vexillum or standard. 3. One of the alae or wings of the corolla. 4. Carina or keel. 5. Monadelphous stamens. 6. Hairy ovary with the long style, thickened upwards, and spirally curved. 7. Legume or pod.
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.