Scotch broom

Scotch broom

Cytisus scoparius

Common Name:

Scotch broom

Scientific Name:

Cytisus scoparius

Alternative common names:

Skotse brem (Afrikaans)


A deciduous shrub up to 4m high with many slender, erect, prominently ridged or grooved, green branches which become almost leafless and rush-like. Small dark green leaves. Bright yellow flowers mostly solitary or paired, appear from September to March. Brownish-black, smooth, poisonous pods which have silky hairs at the margin. This plant invades  grassland, forest margins and roadsides. The seed pods are poisonous.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe including Britain

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - 1a

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, particularly around the Drakensberg foothills.

How does it spread?

Spread by seeds.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species and reduces the grazing potential of the land. It is also poisonous.

What does it look like?

General description: Long, slender, erect and tough branches grow in large, close fascicles, thus rendering it available for broom-making, hence its common name.
Leaves: Alternate, hairy when young the lower ones shortly stalked, with three small, oblong leaflets, the upper ones, near the tips of the branches, sessile and small, often reduced to a single leaflet.
Flowers: Large bright yellow, fragrant flowers, appearing from September to March.
Fruit/Seeds: Produces a pea-like brownish-black pod that bursts open with an audible crack.

Does the plant have any uses?

Grown as an ornamental and hedging.

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