Elisabeth C. Miller Library

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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Genista, Spartium junceum, Cytisus, Noxious weeds--Washington, Allergies

My question is about Cytisus. People with allergies complain about the Scotch broom that grows wild. Are the other tame varieties like C. x praecox going to be a pollen allergy problem also? I want to plant it as an informal hedge and my customers are worried. I want to tell them there is no comparison in the plants. Am I right?


To answer your second question first, Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) is an invasive European species that has given all brooms a bad name. Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) is also invasive, and is considered a Class A noxious weed in Washington State. There are garden-worthy brooms such as C. x praecox. A staff member here grew one in her previous garden for many years (and loved it). Some species of Genista, such as Genista stenopetala, are reportedly not invasive.

According to the book Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Leo Ogren (Ten Speed Press, 2000), Cytisus ranks 5 on the allergy index scale of 1 to 10, but allergy to this plant is uncommon, except in areas where there is a lot of it growing. Spartium junceum rates a 7, while Genista rates a 4, about the same as a begonia or a primrose.

Date 2019-09-19
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Kochia scoparia, Spartium junceum, Cytisus, Flower arrangement, Noxious weeds--Washington, Corylus

While living in Japan and practicing flower arrangement, I often used a branch known as ossified broom. It was always available at flower stores there. The color is gray-green, has the typical multiple straight stems as Scotch Broom but also had some thick and twisted branches that are very attractive in arrangements. I would like to plant it so that I would have a ready supply. Can you help me find the correct name?


I consulted a number of books on Japanese flower arrangement, including The Art of Arranging Flowers: A Complete Guide to Japanese Ikebana, by Shozo Sato (Harry N. Abrams, 1965). 'Broom' may be the common name of a number of different plants, such as Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), and broom cypress (Kochia scoparia). Unfortunately, these plants are considered noxious weeds in the State of Washington.

You may want to consider a type of broom (Genista or Cytisus) that is not considered invasive.

From your description of the branches, I wonder if the appearance would be similar to Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (Henry Lauder's walking stick).

Date 2018-10-25
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