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Genista monosperma (L.) Lam.

Modern name

Retama monosperma (L.) Boiss.


Spartium monospermum L.; Retama monosperma (L.) Boiss.; Lygos monosperma (L.) Heywood

A straggling, unarmed shrub 2 to 4 ft high in this country, but more than twice as high in its native state; branches very slender, pendent, and rush­like, grooved, covered with short, silky hairs when young. Leaves few and inconspicuous, 14 to 34 in. long, linear. Racemes short, silky, distributed along the branches, 12 to 112 in. long, carrying from five to fifteen blossoms. Flowers milky white and delightfully fragrant, 12 in. long; the petals covered with silky hairs, the calyx dark, and contrasting with the petals; keel of corolla cuspidate at the apex. Pods wrinkled, obovoid, mucronate at the apex, about 12 in. long, containing one (sometimes two) black-brown seeds.

Native of S. Portugal, S.W. Spain, and N. Africa, mostly on coastal sands. It has always been rare because of its tenderness. In the Scilly Isles it thrives admirably, but near London it needs the protection of a sunny, sheltered wall, such as that outside a hothouse. The soil must be lightish and well drained. In its native country the thin flexible branches are used for tying – in the same way as willows are here.



Other species in the genus