Plant of the Week – Laburnum anagyroides

This week’s plant is Laburnum anagyroides, the common laburnum tree. I chose it because there is a beautiful archway of laburnum at Ashridge, which is currently being given a winter prune. I love the long, flowing recemes (chains) of fragrant flowers, I can’t wait to see the arch in full bloom next summer! I hope you find the information interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden

Genus: Laburnum

Species: anagyroides

Family: Fabaceae

Common name: Common laburnum

Type of plant: Tree

Origin: Native to central Europe

Technical details

The ideal growing conditions for Laburnum anagyroides are in full sun, in an exposed or sheltered position with well-drained soil.

Soil: Laburnum anagyroides thrives in most soil types and pHs, including: acid, alkaline and neutral: and chalk, clay, sand and loam.

Resilience: Very hardy.

Propagation: Propagation is easiest by grafting.

Cultivation: Laburnum anagyroides is a small deciduous tree, growing no more than seven metres in height. It is a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens, known for its bright yellow pea-like flowers that are densely packed in pendulous racemes, blooming in late spring and summer.

Laburnum racemes

Pest and disease problems: Laburnum anagyroides is prone to aphids and leaf-mining moths and flies. Powdery mildew and silver leaf can sometimes be a problem too.

Interesting Facts

1. The seeds of Laburnum anagyroides are legumes with large numbers of black seeds that contain cytisine, an alkaloid extremely poisonous to humans but also goats and horses, especially when not ripe.

2. The cytisine is present primarily in the flowers, seeds and roots. Initial symptoms of poisoning appear thirty minutes to an hour after ingestion, and include: burning mouth, nausea and vomiting. Subsequent symptoms are intense stomach and intestinal cramps, sweating, headaches and muscle spasms. Fatal poisonings are manifested as whole-body paralysis with death from lung paralysis in one to several hours.

3. During World War I experiments were conducted aimed at using Laburnum anagyroides to replace tobacco because the principal psychoactive chemical cytisine has similar effects to nicotine.

4. In earlier times the seeds and leaves of Laburnum anagyroides were used as a psycho-pharmaceutical agent to treat excessive irritability, psychoneurotic illnesses, migraines, chronic arsenic poisoning and liver ailments.

5. Most poisonings of Laburnum anagyroides occur in children, because they are attracted to the seed pods.

6. The hard, dark greenish timber of Laburnum anagyroides is valued in cabinet-making.

7. The English poet Francis Thompson described Laburnum anagyroides in one of his poems โ€œSister Songsโ€ (1895):

โ€œMark yonder, how the long laburnum drips

its jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame!โ€

8. Bodnant Garden in Wales is famous for its magnificent Laburnum arch which is fifty five metres long.

9. There are two species of laburnum, Laburnum anagyroides and Laburnum alpinum. Most garden specimens are a hybrid between these species, which is Laburnum x watereri โ€˜Vossiiโ€™ commonly known as Voss’s Laburnum.

10. Laburnum x watereri โ€˜Vossiiโ€™ gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, meaning it is a plant of outstanding excellence.

Laburnum drawing


RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants

The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs

Collins Tree Guide



  1. Great photos!
    Lovely to see!


    • Thank you for the lovely comment! ๐Ÿ™‚ x


  2. avian101

    I’ll be careful not to eat that stuff if I ever see one! I promise! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Very interesting, never seen one of those trees. Thanks Becky!


    • Absolutely, be sure to leave it well alone! Thank you for reading and commenting HJ, always ๐Ÿ˜€ x


  3. Wow… it’s gorgeous. I’d love to stroll through that archway when it’s in bloom. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • It is! It looks wonderful when it’s in full flower, I can’t wait for summer ๐Ÿ˜€ thank you for your comment Deb! x


  4. Wow, what acpicture! I love the laburnum. Wevhave one in the garden but its a bush rather than a tree. But itsabsolutely othing compared to these!

    And here we have another poisonous one. Nature has her reasons I guess.



    • It’s a great ornamental tree, the colour alone is fabulous! I will try and find a neutral plant to write about for next week, or maybe go completely different and choose an edible one – lol ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you for reading Christine! x


  5. An amazing Laburnam archway. Great photo! I love those bright coloured dangling


    • It is, one of the best laburnum archways I think! Glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for reading and commenting ๐Ÿ™‚ x


  6. I just did a post on my blog called forgotten bells, my friend Starralee wanted to know what they were as I didn’t know, if you get a moment, can you pop over and see if you can tell. She said if anyone would know it’s you:) they are as tall as daffodils and not lily of the valley.


    • Yes of course! Heading over to have a look now ๐Ÿ™‚ x



  1. Plant of the Week – Laburnum anagyroides | Life of a Plant Lover
  2. Cytisus Laburnam | Find Me A Cure

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