Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Genista monspessulan--French Broom

I suppose this could be another broom, or a hybrid, but as best I can tell, this is French Broom, so called because it was used to make brooms. Fancy that! I guess that is nothing special, over a hundred species from several different families have been used to make brooms. It can also be used as a dye. If the flowers are soaked in water overnight, they lose their color and the water can be used to dye fabric or eggs yellow.

This plant is best known as a noxious weed, outcompeting native species. It takes over pasture land but the cattle don't eat it.

It was planted along highways in the 1950s for erosion control, and now people put tremendous time and energy and money into trying to get rid of it.

It is a big problem, but so pretty! Makes a lovely fragrant bouquet. It is supposed to start blooming in March, but this plant was blooming in February. I cut these branches in Strawberry Canyon, but I have seen French Broom in many places, both wild and not so wild.

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