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Genista tinctoriaGenista tinctoria
Dyer's Broom
I've found some sources that designate this plant as the original source of besoms in Britain, but there is a lot of confusion between it and witch's broom. It does supply the makings of a bouquet traditionally given to newlyweds in that part of the world. That fits interestingly with its history as a symbol of the English royal family, the Plantagenets. Geoffrey IV, father of Henry II, gathered this plant from a large sloped grouping of rocks, saying it would be his symbol because it prevented the rocks from falling  (it held them together with its underground runners). Perhaps this is why it is given to the newlywed couple--to hold them together. Consider this plant magically, then, not for sweeping out but for magic dedicated to binding together and holding up/supporting and potentiating. It's yellow flowers and its association with royalty make this a good candidate for a Jupiter association. Top

Dyer's broom has been used for dyeing since Roman times and makes a good yellow similar to that of weld, bright and fast. It colors wool, silk, cotton, and linen with an alum mordant. Harvest the flowering tops and either use them right away or dry them and save them until you want to dye something; they'll retain their strength for about a year. Kendal green, a greyish green named for the town of Kendal in Westmoreland where it was first created, was made from woad and dyer's broom; wool was mordanted in alum, colored with this broom, and then dipped in woad dye bath. This color green was worn by the 14th century Kendal Bowmen and was the color of choice for foresters beginning in 1505. Contrast this to Lincoln green, which is made from weld and woad. A typical dyer's broom vat is 1 gallon chopped stems to 4 oz of wool. The flowers are also a traditional Easter egg dye in the Carpathian Mountains, so give the flowers a try for egg dyeing for Ostara. I would be interested to see if this works without any mordant. Perhaps the simple addition of vinegar to the water is enough. Top

This magic plant is naturalized in Britain and northeastern US. It's nice for a foundation planting and is a good bee plant. However, it is also attractive to rabbits. It's a legume and fixes nitrogen in the soil, improving it. Because of its underground runners, it's good on slopes for erosion control but can also be a nuisance. Give it its own space. Top

Dyer's broom is known as also known as low broom to distinguish it from Cytisus laburnum, which is ha broom (=high broom). Other names for this plant are dyer's weed, dyer's greenwood, woadwaxen, greenweed, and genet. Top

How to Grow Dyer's Broom

This seed needs cold stratification. Sow in paper towel that has been wet and wrung out. Fold the paper towel together, pressing gently for good contact with the seeds. Put it in a plastic baggie, leaving the bag open, and put the bag either in a refrigerator for three months or outside in a sheltered position (unheated garage or shed) for the winter (see outdoor treatment) After it germinates, plant in sterile potting soil, and then transplant to a site with full sun, spacing plants 36-48in/90-120 cm apart. It gets 24-36in/60-90cm tall. Dyer's broom is a hardy perennial down to -30F/-34C but does not like it too hot (zone 9) and can't grow by the ocean. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or runners. General growing info. Top

Dyer's Broom
50 seeds $3.50


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Indigo
Woad
Weld
Dyer's Chamomile
Dyer's coreopsis
Safflower

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Increasing the strength of a spell
Jupiter Herb

Other dye plants:

Dyer's Chamomile
Indigo
Weld
Woad
 

2009, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission