Herbs, shrubs, or trees, with alternate and generally compound leaves, usually furnished with stipules. Flowers very irregular, consisting of 5 petals, the upper one, called the standard, usually the broadest, the two lateral ones called wings are between the standard and the two lower ones which are inside of all and united more or less by their outer edges into a single one called the keel. Stamens 10, the filaments united into a sheath or the upper one distinct. Ovary 1-celled, with 1-2 or more ovules arranged in 1 or 2 rows on the ventral suture. Fruit a legume or pod, usually opening in two valves. Seeds with two large cotyledons.

A very large family of some 7000 species, widely spread over the globe. An enormous number of species are found in Southern Europe.

Genista L

Low branching shrubs or under-shrubs, with usually simple or rarely trifoliate leaves and yellow flowers. Calyx with 5 teeth, the 2 upper much longer. Standard oblong. Keel usually reflexed after flowering. Stamens all united in a sheath. Pod longer than the calyx.

A large genus, chiefly Mediterranean and from Western Asia. Some species are not easily separated from Cytisus and other allied genera.

Genista Sagittalis L. (Plate XV.) (Cytisus Sagittalis Koch)

A small green under-shrub. Stem rampant, with ascending branches which are herbaceous and have 3 leafy wings compressed at each node. Leaves few, simple, sessile, lanceolate, no stipules. Flowers numerous, in dense, terminal heads. Calyx hairy, with unequal lobes. Standard glabrous, equalling the keel. Pod 15-20 mm. by 5, compressed, pointed, hairy, with 3-6 seeds.

Hillsides, woods, and pastures from the plains to the sub-Alps; common. May to July.


Most of Continental Europe except the North.

Cytisus L

Herbs, small trees, or shrubs. Leaves usually 3-lobed, rarely simple. Upper lip of calyx truncate or bidentate. Flowers yellow. Other characters as in Genista.

Many species inhabiting Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cytisus Alpinus L. "Alpine Laburnum"

A small glabrous tree, 6-20 feet high. Leaves trifoliate, on long stalks; leaflets large, entire, pointed, shortly stalked, green on both sides, glabrous or hairy only at the margin. Flowers rather smaller than in C. Laburnum, in a large, pendent, downy raceme. Legume glabrous, shining, with a winged keel to the upper suture.

Mountain woods and bushy places up to 5000 feet; local. June, July.


Jura, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps.

Cytisus Laburnum L. Laburnum

A rather taller tree than the last. Leaves glaucous below, instead of being green on both sides. Pod downy and then nearly glabrous instead of being always glabrous.

Mountain woods. May, June.


Switzerland, Eastern France; Alpes-Maritimes; naturalised elsewhere in France. Central and Southern Europe.