Chamaecytisus

Chamaecytisus is indigenous in Europe, and comprises about 20 species. Its common name is the same as that of the closely related genus, Cytisus. This is a low-growing, evergreen shrub which grows in one direction, and has bristly, sometimes spiny stems, fairly small, tripinnate leaves, and often fragrant, terminal or axillary clusters of pea-like flowers with five petals, one of which points upwards (flag), while two spread outwards (wings), and two are fused forwards (pouch). After flowering the shrub bears black pods which burst open when they are ripe.

C. albus (syn. Cytisus albus, Cytisus leucanthus), flowers from June-August and is 30-80 cm tall. It has erect, hairy stems, and hairy, oblong, oval leaves and terminal white or yellowish-white flowers. C. purpureus (syn. Cytisus purpureas), purple broom, is a broad shrub which flowers from June-July, and is 30-60 cm tall. It has thornless, arching stems, oval leaves up to 2 cm long, and purplish-red flowers 2.5 cm across; “Atropurpurea” has dark, purplish-red flowers.

This is an attractive garden shrub, suitable for ground cover in front of higher shrubs, in a sunny spot in sandy soil which is not very nutritious. Prune only immediately after flowering. Thin out regularly to retain shape and remove pods. Propagate from seed (in the open soil in autumn) and from summer cuttings.

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