Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Cytisus tinctoria appears as a huge mass of yellow blooms in a corner of the Herb Garden. As useful as it is beautiful, the common name for this plant, dyer’s broom, comes from its use as the source of a yellow dye.
Because the twigs of dyer’s broom have a linear arrangement, they lend themselves to being bundled and they were easy to fashion into sweeping implements. Naturally, these implements became known as “brooms.” These same twigs are the source of isoflavonoids, identified more than a century ago and still being studied for their medicinal properties.
The Plantagenets, a powerful royal household of medieval Europe, inherited their family name from their ancestor Geoffrey, count of Anjou, who was called Plante Genest for his habit of tucking a sprig of broom in his hat.