Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link

Scotch broom

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Scotch broom is notable for its showy yellow, pea-like flowers and its bunches of unusual, angular stems. Native to Europe and introduced to North America in the 1800s, it is regarded as a noxious weed throughout much of its introduced range, especially in western North America. It can spread quickly because its seeds disperse explosively and are carried along by wind. This plant was widely planted on Cape Cod and the islands in the 1800s because of its capacity to stabilize sand dunes.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), coastal beaches (sea beaches), dunes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Growth form
the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
Leaf type
  • the leaf blade is compound (i.e., made up of two or more discrete leaflets
  • the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Bark texture
  • the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
  • the bark of an adult plant peels off easily or hangs off
Twig winter color
green
Bud scale number
there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are three or more scales on the winter bud, and they overlap like shingles, with one edge covered and the other edge exposed
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Leaf scar arrangement
    there is one leaf scar per node on the stem or twig
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
    Winter bud scale hairs
    the winter bud scales have no hairs on them
    Winter bud shape
    • the winter buds are ellipsoid (elliptical in three dimensions)
    • the winter buds are ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Winter bud stalks
    the winter buds have no stalks
  • Flowers
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower petal color
    yellow or green
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescences grow on the twigs
    Inflorescence type
    • the inflorescence has only one flower on it
    • the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    • the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    • the perianth parts are separate
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Sepal tip glands
    there are no glands at the tips of the sepal lobes
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen number
    10
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are fused to one another at or near their bases
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Fruit tissue origin
    • the hypanthium of the flower becomes part of the fruit
    • there are no flower parts that form part of the fruit
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    legume
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • Leaves
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Leaf blade base shape
    • the base of the leaf blade is attenuate (tapering very gradually to a prolonged tip)
    • the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade flatness
    • the edges of the leaf are curled up
    • the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade scales
    there are no scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is coriaceous (has a firm, leathery texture)
    • the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base toward the tip
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the plant is broad-leaved (with broadly flattened leaf blades)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf midrib glands
    the midrib of the leaf blade lacks glands on the upper surface
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk shape
    NA
    Leaf teeth
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    • the leaf blade is compound (i.e., made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    • the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf is palmately compound with three leaflets
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant, or they fall off as the leaf expands
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • dunes
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • sea beaches
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor, or it has an unpleasant or repellant odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    • the bark of an adult plant is thin and smooth
    • the bark of an adult plant peels off easily or hangs off
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is roughly square or rectangular in cross-section, with four sides and four edges
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Lenticels on twigs
    there are no lenticels on the twigs, or they are very hard to see
    Short shoots
    there are no peg- or knob-like shoots present
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hairs
    the twigs have few or no hairs on them
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig winter color
    green
    Wings on branch
    • the branch does not have wings on it
    • the branch has wings running along it
    armature on plant
    the plant does not have spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. scoparius

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Synonyms

  • Spartium scoparium L.

Family

Fabaceae

Genus

Cytisus

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link var. scoparius.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link  var. scoparius E

Scotch broom. Spartium scoparium L. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI; most prevalent along the coastal plain. Roadsides, beaches, dunes, sandy wastes.

C. multiflorus (ĽHér.) Sweet ×C. purgans Spach. Cytisus ×‌praecox W.J. Bean is a very rare broom hybrid in New England known from MA. It can be separated from 
 C. scoparius by its grooved branchlets and yellow-white to pale yellow flowers 9–11 mm long (vs. angled, but not grooved, branchlets and bright yellow flowers 20–25 mm 
long in C. scoparius).