Spartium junceum (habitus).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Genisteae
Genus: Spartium
S. junceum
Binomial name
Spartium junceum
  • Genista juncea Scop.

Spartium junceum is the sole species in the genus Spartium.[1][2][3] Known as Spanish broom,[4] rush broom or weaver's broom,[5] it is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is closely related to the other brooms (in the genera Cytisus and Genista). There are many binomials in Spartium that are of dubious validity (see Nomina dubia below).


The Greek name Spartium given to the genus denotes the use of the plant for 'cordage'.[6]

The Latin specific epithet junceum means "rush-like", referring to the shoots, which show a passing resemblance to those of the rush genus Juncus.[7]

Distribution and habitat

This species is native to the Mediterranean in southern Europe, southwest Asia and northwest Africa,[8] where it is found in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils.


Spartium junceum is a vigorous, deciduous shrub growing to 2–4 m (7–13 ft) tall, rarely 5 m (16 ft), with main stems up to 5 cm (2 in) thick, rarely 10 cm (4 in). It has thick, somewhat succulent grey-green rush-like shoots with very sparse small deciduous leaves 1 to 3 cm long and up to 4 mm broad. The leaves are of little importance to the plant, with much of the photosynthesis occurring in the green shoots (a water-conserving strategy in its dry climate). The leaves fall away early.[9] In late spring and summer shoots are covered in profuse fragrant yellow pea-like flowers 1 to 2 cm across. In late summer, the legumes (seed pods) mature black and reach 8–10 cm (3–4 in) long. They burst open, often with an audible crack, spreading seed from the parent plant.

Cultivation and uses

The plant is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and in landscape plantings. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5][10]

In Bolivia and Peru, the plant is known as retama,[8] (not to be confused with the genus Retama) and has become very well established in some areas. It is one of the most common ornamental plants, often seen growing along sidewalks in La Paz.[citation needed]

Retama has made its way into the ethnobotany of the indigenous Aymara and Quechua cultures.[citation needed]

The plant is also used as a flavoring, and for its essential oil, known as genet absolute.[8][11] Its fibers have been used for cloth and it produces a yellow dye.[11][12]

Invasive species

Spartium junceum has been widely introduced into other areas, and is regarded as a noxious invasive species in places with a Mediterranean climate such as California and Oregon, Hawaii, central Chile, southeastern Australia,[13] the Western Cape in South Africa and the Canary Islands and Azores.[8][14] It was first introduced to California as an ornamental plant.[14][15]


Nomina dubia

The status of the following species is unresolved:[3]

  • Spartium acanthocladon Spreng.
  • Spartium acutifolium Lindl.
  • Spartium affine Spach
  • Spartium albicans Cav.
  • Spartium album Desf.
  • Spartium alpinum Host ex Steud.
  • Spartium ambigum Spach
  • Spartium americanum Meyen
  • Spartium amoenum Salisb.
  • Spartium angulosum Gilib.
  • Spartium aragonense Pourr. ex Willk. & Lange
  • Spartium arborescens Mill.
  • Spartium arboreum Desf.
  • Spartium argenteum Steud.
  • Spartium aspalatoides Desf.
  • Spartium aureum Cav.
  • Spartium baeticum Samp.
  • Spartium bourgaei (Boiss.) Samp.
  • Spartium capitatum Barnado ex Cav.
  • Spartium cinereum Vill.
  • Spartium clusii Spach
  • Spartium congestum Willd.
  • Spartium contaminatum W.T.Aiton
  • Spartium contaminatum L.
  • Spartium corsicum Loisel.
  • Spartium cupani Spreng.
  • Spartium cuspidatum Cav.
  • Spartium cuspidosum Burch.
  • Spartium cytisoides L.f.
  • Spartium dalmaticum Spreng.
  • Spartium dispermum Willd.
  • Spartium dubium Spach
  • Spartium duriaei Spach
  • Spartium ephedroides Spreng.
  • Spartium erinaceoides Loisel.
  • Spartium etnensis Raf.
  • Spartium ferox Poir.
  • Spartium filifolium Willd. ex Walp.
  • Spartium fragrans Lam. ex Steud.
  • Spartium gasparinii Guss.
  • Spartium glabrum Mill.
  • Spartium gracile Salisb.
  • Spartium grandiflorum Salisb.
  • Spartium grandiflorum Brot.
  • Spartium gymnopterum Viv.
  • Spartium halleri Lam.
  • Spartium heterophyllum L'Hér.
  • Spartium hispanicum Spreng.
  • Spartium horridum Sm.
  • Spartium humile Salisb.
  • Spartium interruptum Cav.
  • Spartium japonicum Miq.
  • Spartium laburnum Cav. ex Steud.
  • Spartium laburnum (L.) Cav.
  • Spartium lasiocarpum Pourr. ex Willk. & Lange
  • Spartium linifolium Desf.
  • Spartium microcarpum Spach
  • Spartium microphyllum Cav.
  • Spartium nubigenum Aiton
  • Spartium odoratissimum D.Don ex Steud.
  • Spartium odoratum Dulac
  • Spartium osyris Pourr. ex Willk. & Lange
  • Spartium patens L.
  • Spartium pinastrifolium Burm.f.
  • Spartium pusillum Salisb.
  • Spartium ramosissimum Desf.
  • Spartium reinaceoides Loisel.
  • Spartium rhodorhizoides Walp.
  • Spartium rostratum Spreng.
  • Spartium rostratum Spach
  • Spartium sagittale (L.) Roth
  • Spartium scorpius L.
  • Spartium semperflorens Spach
  • Spartium sepiarium L.
  • Spartium sericeum Vent.
  • Spartium sericeum Aiton
  • Spartium sessilifolium (L.) Cav.
  • Spartium sessilifolium (DC.) Spreng.
  • Spartium sophoroides P.J.Bergius
  • Spartium striatum Samp.
  • Spartium terminale Salisb.
  • Spartium tinctorium Roth
  • Spartium tricuspidatum Cav.
  • Spartium tridens Cav.
  • Spartium triquetrum Steud.
  • Spartium umbellatum L'Hér.
  • Spartium valentinum Willd. ex Spreng.
  • Spartium virgatum Aiton
  • Spartium webbii Spach


  1. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Spartium". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  2. ^ USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Spartium". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b "The Plant List entry for Spartium". The Plant List. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Spartium junceum". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector - Spartium junceum". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  6. ^ "A Modern Herbal | Broom, Spanish". Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  7. ^ A–Z encyclopedia of garden plants. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley in association with the Royal Horticultural Society. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  8. ^ a b c d "Spartium junceum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ Jepson Manual Treatment
  10. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 99. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b FAO
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The NSW Government WeedWise Resource from the Department of Primary Industries".
  14. ^ a b US Forest Service Fire Ecology
  15. ^ Element Stewardship: S. junceum

External links