Genista spachiana (Syn. Genista racemosa/Cytisus spachianus)-Sweet Broom

Genista spachiana-Sweet Broom on 4-15-12, #86-34.

Sweet Broom

Genista spachiana

jih-NIS-tuh spak-ee-AY-Nuh


Genista racemosa

jih-NIS-tuh ray-see-MO-suh


Cytisus spachianus

SIT-is-us spak-ee-AY-nus

I bought my Sweet Broom from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi in April 2012. I was so impressed with the flowers and neatness of the plant that I didn’t read the label until I got home. I put it in a planter, then read the label. It said this plant COULD reach 6′ tall x 6′ wide!!! The label also said it was a Genista racemosa.

I sold the mansion in Mississippi and moved back to the family farm in Missouri in February 2013. I didn’t bring this plant with me but I started a new blog, the first Belmont Rooster, which required further research. It led to some confusion about this plant… I had started using The Plant List for name research and found out there was NO Genista racemosa, not as an accepted name or a synonym. There are many online businesses that sell this plant as Genista racemosa and many photos of them on Pinterest as such because of the incorrect labeling. I concluded my first round of research and decided my plant was a Genista spachiana since there was no species named Genista racemosa. However, as I started writing this page for the new Belmont Rooster, I forgot why I decided it was Genista spachiana in the first place. So, I started over again.

So, to begin the correct name search, let’s start with the incorrect one. I looked at all the websites that were not connected with plant sales or Pinterest. The 2013 version of The Plant List contains 125 accepted species of Genista plus another 43 accepted infraspecific names. It lists a total of 247 synonyms and 347 names still unresolved. As I mentioned earlier, Genista racemosa is not on the list. Now that The Plant list is no longer maintained, I have been relying on the new Plants of the World Online for current plant name research. As with The Plant List, there is no such name as Genista racemosa.

Companies selling plants with incorrect labels seem to know no better. They buy plants wholesale from growers using incorrect labeling which leads to buyers believing their plants are the wrong name. That leads to them being posted on Pinterest and blogs incorrectly.

This time as I did research, the first “non-commercial” article I ran across was published on GREEN BLOG. GREEN BLOG is from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is a very interesting article for sure, but no species names are mentioned until you get down to the comments. One  comment says, ““Sweet Broom” (Cytisus spachiamus or Genista racemosa)….” OK, so he misspelled Cytisus spachianus but we all make mistakes. So, here was the first evidence of a “correct name” that I didn’t see when I did my first research in 2013. This article was published in June 2013 AFTER my original research. But wait a minute! He says Sweet Broom is a Cytisus! What is a Cytisus?

The 2013 version of The Plant list says Cytisus spachianus Kuntze is a synonym of Genista spachiana Webb. Plants of the World Online lists TWO Cytisus genera… Cytisus Desf. is accepted while Cytisus L. is a synonym of the genus Cytisophyllum O.Lang! OH. NO! NOT ANOTHER ONE!!! Anyway, I looked and wouldn’t you know it, Cytisus spachianus is not on their list of  30 accepted species. SO, I checked with another Kew site, The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. I typed in Cytisus on their name search box and it says, “Your search returned no results.” For the heck of it, I typed in Genista and the results were the same.

Before I continue, photos on the Cytisophyllum genus page on Plants of the World Online look similar to flowers of Cytisus and Genista

The second website was from Gardening Know How saying, “One of the more common sweet brooms (Cytisus racemosus syn. Genista racemosa)”…. OK, so let’s look at Cytisus racemosus… Of course, there is no species by that name listed on Plants of The World Online. BUT the 2013 version of The Plant List says that Cytisus racemosus Hort.-Cf. Marnock IS an accepted name. Then again, The Plant List os no longer maintained…

I fudged a little and swayed to check out the listing for Sweet Broom on the Monrovia website. It says Sweet Broom is Cytisus x spachianus. They list 10 different “brooms” with the genus name Cytisus and 3 with the genus name Genista! I typed in “broom” to see where that lead and the search came up with 10 plants INCLUDING ANOTHER GENUS by the name of Spartium… What the heck is a Spartium?

Of course, I had to check out that genus name… Low and behold, Plants of the World Online says Spartium L is a correct and accepted genus and the flowers are, once again, similar to Genista and Cytisus flowers.

The Learn 2 Grow website says, “Some believe that this semi-evergreen shrub is actually a naturally occurring hybrid between two Genista from the Canary Islands, Genista stenopetalus and Genista canariensis, but this is not confirmed.” GEEZ!!! That’s why Monrovia and a few other websites list their plants as Genista x spachiana or Cytisus x spachianus. Hmmm…

I ran across this excerpt from the book titled “An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening” written by Walter P. Wright in 1913 on Google…

Then, of course, there is Dave’s Garden. They list an Easter Broom as Genista x spachiana.

By now I am thoroughly exhausted writing this page so I suppose I have to choose a name… Apparently, it is either a Genista spachiana or Cytisus spachianus since Genista racemosa is a synonym of both. Since the 2013 version of The Plant List says Cytisus spachianus is a synonym of Genista spachiana, I guess I’ll have to stick with that for now. I have to because Plants of the World Online is still uploading data and doesn’t list either.

Also, the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder lists a Genista spachiana and says Cytisus spachianus is a synonym. They are very reliable and pretty up-to-date.

SO, Genista spachiana it is…

Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Origin: Canary Islands
Zones: USDA Zones 8-10 (° F
Size: 5-8’ tall x 5-8’ wide
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average well-drained
Water: Average

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