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Cytisus flowersCytisus scoparius
Witch's broom
This Air plant has furnished ritual brooms (besoms) and floor brooms for hundreds of years. A besom made from this plant is handy for purification of a space through ritual sweeping (nice as a mini-broom for your altar). Some believe this broom to be offensive to the Fae, though this is also the broom that folk jumped over when they wed. Traditionally, this plant is a substitute for furze/gorse, heather, holly, or butcher's broom in Celtic pathways. It is Ngetal, the twelfth letter of the Ogham alphabet, according to The Scholar's Primer. It has played a role in Air magic, having been burned to calm blustery winds and thrown into the air to raise winds. In Scotland, broom flowers among others were used to decorate female figures made from sheaves of corn and paraded on Imbolc (St. Bride's Day) in what was apparently a maiden celebration. The yellow flowers are considered good luck, but in Suffolk and Surrey you were not to make a besom of broom when it was in flower, or you would sweep away your luck. Warriors might also consider it as a protective charm, as Richard the Lion-Hearted always stuck some in his helmet before riding into battle. This plant was chosen to represent Glasgow by its inhabitants, so it's nice to work with if your ancestors came from there. Its flower essence helps increase a positive attitude.

A native of the British Isles, it has been woven into baskets and wattle-type fencing, and it has been dried to make thatch roofs. The long, straight branches of this tall (4-9ft/1.2-2.75m) perennial plant make great brooms. The leaves and tops give a yellow dye very similar to that of weld, and it was also added to beer for its bitterness and sedative qualities before the introducton of hops. Its flowers don't make any nectar, but bumblebees love its abundant pollen, which is triggered to shower them. They don't seem to mind getting covered with it, and they busily carry it back home. The blooms turn to hairy pods that crack open loudly to release the ripe seeds, throwing them up to 12ft/3.6 m. The leaves have been smoked for sedative effect, but this plant contains a strong heart toxin (it's a traditional remedy for various heart ailments), so don't ingest it. It is used in very small amounts in some historical beers, and that kind of use is considered safe. Witch's broom is also known as Scotch broom, Banal, Basam, Besom, Bisom, Bizzon, Breeam, Browme, Broom Tops, Brum, Genista Green Broom, Irish Broom, Irish Tops. King's Dispensatory on Broom  Top

cytisus flowerHow to grow it: Seeds germinate best if they are scarified (file off a bit of the seed coat on the end with a nail file) and then soak in a thermos of hot water for three hours.  Plant in sterile planting medium.  About 50% of the seeds will actually germinate; the rest will remain in the soil and germinate over a very long period.  Seeds are very long-lived and can be viable in the field for 30 years and with good storage for 80 years.  They are often planted by ants.  Broom can also be propagated from cuttings once it is established.  It likes dry, sandy soils and in its native habitat takes heather for a companion.  It can get over 3ft/.9m the first year. Broom is an aggressive plant that is considered a weed in some areas. It can get really big, especially if it is confined (otherwise, it gets lanky and floppy). Stems stay green in the winter; 1"/2.5cm flowers bloom on old wood and turn into hairy pods. The plant can take two years to establish a large root system and flower; in the meanwhile, it will be grassy. It can be grown in partly shady areas when it's young but needs full sun when it's larger. An excellent anti-erosion plant because of its large root system, it can grow in cold, dry, and stony places that other plants reject. Because it's a legume, it can handle soil of low fertility better than other plants can; that and its prodigious production of seed can cause it to become a pest in optimal conditions. General growing info.  Top

 

Cytisus scoparius
Witch's Broom
100 seeds $3.50


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Besoms
Luck
Wind Magic
Air Herb

2004, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.