miked's picture

Miked's 224th spot submitted on 6th August 2009

Observed: 3rd June 2006 By: miked
iSpot team
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 MG 3309
 MG 3309

a broom on dover cliffs but can't find which broom as it does not appear to be native one but growing far from nearest garden

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) interacts


the naturalist man's picture


A royal plant; it's French/Latin name, Planta genet, gave its name to a royal dynasty, the Plantagenets. Geoffrey of Anjou, father of Henry II favoured the plant and adopted it as his symbol. He apparently wore it in his hat. Richard of York adopted Plantagenet as his surname, yet used the white rose as his symbol.

As the name suggests, it was popular as a broom, interestingly it contains sparteine, a hallucinogen. It is commonly beleaved that this is where the idea of witches riding on sprigs of broom comes from. However, sparteine also causes stomach upsets, are witches also supposed to suffer from flatulance?

Graham Banwell

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miked's picture

Don't think this is horseshoe

Don't think this is horseshoe vetch as the plant was shrubby like a broom, indeed it superficially looked very much like Cytisus scoparius ssp. maritimus until you looked at the leaves. I suspect it was not a native uk species even though it was growing on the cliffs some distance from any gardens.
Have added an overall image. looking at it again it does look rather like horseshoe vetch but it just seemed wrong at the time. will try to remember to have a look for pods if i get down to dover again.