The Brooms

The Brooms

Leguminosae (Bean family)

There are three different kinds of Brooms, the Canary Island Broom, Scotch, and the Spanish Broom. There are some discrepancies in literature as to which Broom possesses the best effects and the highest alkaloid content. After the paper reporting firstly about the effects of Brooms, the flowers of the Canary Island Broom exhibit the strongest effect. This is denied by other sources, who say that with the flower tops of the Spanish Broom the best effect could be obtained, whereas other swear on the Scotch Broom. This conflicting information presumably evolved due to the fact that the alkaloid content of the different Broom species varies with time and location.

Canary Island Broom (Cytisus canariensis L., previously Genista canariensis). The Canary Island Broom is indigenous to the Canary Islands. This branched bush can reaches heights up to 6 feet. The branches are hairy and covered with light green leaves that are divided into three leaflets. The Canary Island Broom is the only Broom species that keeps its leaves also in winter. The anthesis is between May to July; at this time the bush is covered with bright yellow lowers, which are arranged as racemes. Below temperatures of 15 °F the shrub will suffer damages, but will recover from this relatively fast.

Scotch Broom (Spartium scoparius L.). The Scotch Broom varies in appearance compared to the Canary Island Broom, because it can reaches heights up to 10 feet. The branches of the bush are erect and slender, bearing only a few leaves. The flowers are also yellow and a reach a length of 3/4 inch. The anthesis is between March to June . The Scotch Broom is native to central- and southern Europe and was naturalized in California.

Spanish Broom (Spartium junceum L.). The Spanish Broom looks similar to the Scotch Broom, as it can reaches heights up to 10 feet as well and also possesses erect and slender branches with almost no leaves. The odorant flowers are also yellow in color and 1 inch long. Out of the flower a 4 inch long pod develops. In the US the bush flowers between June to September, whereas in California the shrubs flower all-the-year. Primarily the species originates from Mediterranean regions.

Cultivation and Propagation. For a successful propagation of the shrub a well drained soil is necessary. In favor are sunny places with loamy-sandy soil, which is low in nutrients and rich in lime. Often the Broom settles on dry and rocky acclivities. In the U.S. the Scotch and Spanish Broom are hardy in all regions, whereas the Canary Island Broom are sensitive to cold and only hardy in the west and south. All species are resistant against droughts and are anyway easy to handle because it is undemanding and needs barely water and modest fertilizer.

Then propagation very easy and can be achieved by different ways, namely by using seeds, cuttings, or layers. To propagate Brooms by using seeds you should already start in January. First, the seeds should be notched and then laid in water until they are swollen; then, they can be sown. The young plantlets should be repot with care, and one year after sowing the bush will be in flower the first time.

Cuttings should be abscised from young branches with a sharp blade during spring or between August and September. Afterwards, they have to be transplanted into sandy soil for rootage. If the Broom is kept as indoor plant, the shrub has to be trimmed after flowering because otherwise the branches would become to heavy and the plant would cant over. Indoor plants can be kept outside during beginning of spring until autumn when the first frost starts.

Harvest. To obtain a high alkaloid content, the plant should always stay at places with full sun. Firstly, the flowers will be harvested and stored for 10 days in sealed jar until maturation, which allays the hardness of the smoke. Afterwards, the mature flowers will be dried with low heat. The active flower tips should be harvested in May and can be dried without maturation. The material obtained after trimming the indoor plant can be used as well.

Preparation. The dried flowers can be smokes as well as used for a tea. To smoke the flowers you should 3-4 gramm and simply roll it to a joint or smoke it in a pipe. You can use the same amount to extract it with water and make a brew for drinking.

Effects. Small dosages (approximately 1 joint) of the Canary Island Broom have a recreational effect resulting in a positive attitude. This effects last for about 2 hours. If a higher dosage is consumed (2-3 joints) the intellectual skills and alertness are boosted. No side effects after consumption of brooms are known.

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