Laburnum

Laburnum is mainly indigenous in southern and central Europe, North Africa and western Asia. It comprises six species of which L. x watereri, a cross of L. alpinum and L. anagyroides, is one of the most beautiful garden shrubs. The leaves and fruits are poisonous to humans and small domestic animals.

This is a deciduous, woody-stemmed shrub or small tree with a smooth, finely grooved bark, often hairy stems, and alternating, more or less hairy leaves composed of three leaflets; it has long, pendent clusters of large numbers of yellow, pea-like flowers and light-brown pods.

L. alpinum (syn. Cytisus alpinus), Scotch laburnum, is an elegant tree up to 8 m tall and 3-4 m broad, which flowers in June. It has yellow to greyish-green stems, bright green leaves, clusters of fragrant, yellow flowers, 20-30 cm long, and 6 cm long pods. L. anagyroides (syn. L. vulgare), common laburnum, golden chain, is a hairy tree up to 8 m tall and 3-4 m broad, which flowers in May-June. It has fairly short clusters of golden-yellow flowers which are not fragrant; ‘Pendulum’ is an attractive, weeping variety with wide, arching stems; suitable for small gardens. L. x watereri, Voss’s laburnum, is up to 6 m tall and flowers in May-June, with clusters of flowers up to 40 cm long; ‘Vossii’ has very attractive clusters of flowers up to 50 cm long; remove pods (self-seeding). It prefers a sunny spot and nutritious, well-drained, lime-rich soil. It is reasonably resistant to air pollution; for full effect, plant three or more specimens together against a green background; prune as little as possible. Propagate from seed (soak seeds first), from winter cuttings (with growing medium), by grafting and budding.

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