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Photo of the Week: Spanish Broom

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Yellow blooms usher in summer.

Posted June 4, 2014. A Spanish broom blooms at the Botanic Garden. Photo courtesy Jon Stewart/ABQ BioPark.

Spanish broom is beloved for its captivating fragrant yellow blossoms that flower at the end of long, thin, rush-like branches. The shrub has delicate deciduous leaves, but most of its photosynthesis happens in its chlorophyll-filled stems. Originally a Mediterranean plant, Spanish broom does well in New Mexico, thriving in drought conditions and able to set down roots in poor soils.

A member of the pea family, Spanish broom has a flower shape shared by other pea plants. Each flower bears petals of three specific shapes - a large “banner” petal that sticks up from the back; two “wings fanning out below the banner; and two fused petals at the bottom called the “keel.”

But one person’s garden centerpiece is another’s noxious weed. Its ability to make home in lowly places, coupled with the 7,000-10,000 seeds that one plant can produce in a single season, have led to an overabundance in states like Washington, Oregon and California. Along the west coast, management plans help control the spread of the shrub and people are prohibited from selling or planting the species.

What other “weeds” do you grow on purpose? Tell us on Facebook.

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