Native Broom is a shrub with arching to pendulous branches, growing up to 5m high, although often shorter.
Young plants have leaves that are divided into three leaflets, similar to clovers. As the plant grows, the leaves change form: the true leaves effectively disappear and the stalk at the base of the leaves (the petiole) elongates, reaching up to 25cm long. These structures are known as phyllodes, the name for petioles when they are modified to function as leaves. The majority of Australian wattles (Acacia) have these instead of true leaves, although these can be varied in shape, even being flattened into more typical ‘leaf-like’ shapes. Phyllodes are generally believed to be an adaptation to reduce water loss.
The common name derives from the similarity to the related brooms (Cytisus, Genista and Spartium); the specific name “juncea” refers to the superficial similarity in appearance of the foliage to that of rushes (Juncus species.).
Native Broom belongs to the peas (subfamily Faboideae of the family Fabaceae), which includes many edible crops (e.g. Peas, French Beans, Broad Beans, Soy Beans) fodder crops (clovers, Lucerne), and other economically valuable plants. Numerous plants in this family are cultivated for their beauty such as Sweet Peas, Wisteria, Coral Trees (Erythrina species.), and such natives species as Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) and Coral Vine (Kennedia rubicunda), along with Native Broom itself. This is one of the larger groups of flowering plants, with approximately 12,000 species worldwide and 1,100 species in the Australia. Viminaria, on the other hand, solely consists of this species.
Native Broom grows in damp situations, usually on the edges of swamps and streams, on sandy soils. In NSW it is restricted to the coast and adjacent areas. It also occurs in Qld, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Where can Native Broom be seen in the Parklands?
In the park there are a number of planted specimens, but naturally occurring plants may be found on the edge of the Lachlan Swamp, and on the bridge across the stream below the Mission Fields.