T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Genista monspessulana (Montpellier broom)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Genista
Species: G. monspessulana
Binomial name: Genista monspessulana
Synonyms: Cytisus monspessulanus, Cytisus monspessulana, Cytisus canariensis, Cytisus candicans, Teline monspessulana, Genista maderensis
Common names: Montpellier broom, French broom, Cape broom, Canary broom, Soft broom, Leafy broom, Madeira broom

Genista monspessulana is an upright, woody perennial, evergreen shrub and a member of the pea family Fabaceae. The species is native to the Mediterranean region and is considered an invasive plant in most places where it has been introduced. Due to its reproductive vigour, it often outcompetes other vegetation, forming dense areas where other species are almost completely crowded out. It invades many habitats including forest margins, river banks, drains, coastal banks, poor pasture, regenerating forests and waste areas.

Genista monspessulana grows to >2.5 metres tall with ridged, woody, grey-brown stems and with slender green branches.
The leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. They are evergreen, trifoliate with three narrow obovate leaflets, >2 centimetres long. They have entire margins and the middle (terminal) leaflet is usually larger than the other two (lateral) leaflets. The upper surfaces of the leaflets are bright green and slightly pubescent or hairless while their undersides are somewhat pubescent. The three leaflets are borne on a short stalk (petioles) 2-4 mm long.
The pea-shaped flowers are a bright yellow (8-12 mm long) and are borne singly or in small groups of 3-9 in short racemes. The racemes may occur at the tips of the stems as well as on short side branches. The flowers have five green sepals (4-7 mm long) that are partially fused together at the base into a short tube (calyx tube). The uppermost petal (standard) is larger than the two side petals (lateral or wing petals), and the two lower petals are fused together into a single entity (a keel) and are folded lengthwise. Flowering occurs mostly during late winter, spring and summer.

Like other legumes, it develops its seeds within a pod. The pods are 2–3 cm long, tough and hard and contain several rounded seeds (2-2.5 mm across). When ripe the pods burst open with force, dispersing the seeds several metres. The plant begins seed production once it reaches a height of approximately 40 centimetres (2 years), and each plant can live for 10–20 years. One mature plant can produce 10,000 seeds per season. The generous seed production and the plant's ability to re-sprout after cutting or burning help it to invade new habitat vigorously when introduced.
Its leaves and seeds contain alkaloids that are poisonous to many grazing, domestic animals.

Newly formed seed pods

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/