Spartium junceum Fr: Genêt d'Espagne
This shrub with bright yellow flowers grows on hillsides throughout the Beyond region, often alongside the roads and trails you'll be travelling. It smells sweet, and doesn't hurt like the more prickly gorse.
What's in a Name? The branches are long and supple and were used for sweeping, hence the name. The Latin name comes from the Greek spartion as, along with Esparto grass, it was used in rope-making. In French a similar broom, the Genista scorpius, is called Genêt à balais, meaning "broom" gênet. On a more kingly note, broom gave its name to the English royal Plantagenets: the Latin planta (sprig) and genista (broom plant) were combined to form Plantagenet, referring to the sprig the Geoffrey always wore in his cap.
A member of the Pea family (Leguminosae). Grows to over 3 m. Flowers: 20-25 mm, bright yellow and solitary, but growing in profusion.
Habitat. Maquis, dry slopes, open woodland and roadsides; prefers chalky soil.
Pod. 50-80mm, flattened.
Practical. This plant is still used for making baskets and weaving, and for medicinal purposes: to stimulate urine production.