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Broom is sometimes confused with gorse, because the yellow flowers are a similar shape. However, broom has a few soft leaves on the long straight stems, not spines; it grows on light sandy soils, and is only flowers in midsummer.
The flowers are followed by seeds in miniature pea pods which dry and split open to scatter the seeds.
On the right soil, broom can spread rapidly, for example disused sand and gravel quarries.
On light soils, it is a good shrub component of woodland on a sunny south facing bank. If it is to be grown as an ornamental shrub in gardens, it needs to be cut back or after a few years becomes too leggy and tends to collapse.
Pick the dry seed pods in late summer/autumn.
STORAGE/TREATMENT OF SEEDS
Seeds may be taken out of the seed cases and sown straight away or stored dry in an airtight container over winter.
The seeds have a particularly hard seed coat, and to achieve successful germination this has to be breached. One way is to take individual seeds and rub them with sandpaper or rough emery board until you can just see the paler material inside the dark seed coat.
It only needs to be breached on one spot. Alternatively, seeds may be treated by pouring boiling water over them and leaving to cool. Once the seeds have been treated, plant them individually in pots or plug trays in light soil.
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