jon kean's picture

Laburnum hedge

Observed: 27th May 2010 By: jon keanjon kean’s reputation in Plantsjon kean’s reputation in Plants
laburnum hedge.jpg

A common farm hedge around here despite being poisonous to stock. Why? It establishes boundaries quickly, or is it because it fixes nitrogen naturally?

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Kluut's picture

It is hihgghly unlikely to be

It is highly unlikely to be stock-proof as it does not grow very densely and has no thorns. It is also small and slow growing compared to more normal hedging plants such as sloe and quickthorn.
Must make for a very unusual and decorative hedge for a couple of weeks a year.

A fad of one particular land-owner perhaps? Perhaps many years ago?

jon kean's picture

Hi Kurt It is Laburnum

Hi Kurt

It is Laburnum anagyroides see

It is a common hedging plant in this lead mining area across a number of holdings- there is also a rare Scottish laburnum in the area. Many theories have been suggested as to why it has been planted, including the wood was used for pick handles. The hedges are layered to make them stock proof - maybe stock senses that they are poisonous and so do not eat them. I just made up another theory for planting them!!

However, they are associated with the squatters holdings of Victorian miners - and you are right, they do look glorious, particularly as broom and gorse are flowereing at the same time.

Best wishes


Jon Kean

Kluut's picture


Hedges aren't stock-proof due to being laid. It does make them denser and stock resistant, but not stock-proof - the one in the photo' is backed with barbed wire.
Laid laburnum will be more stock-resistant than things like elm, beech etc., because it won't be grazed, but no thorn-free hedge that does not sucker and grow vigorously and densely, especially from advanticiuos buds, is ever going to stop stock that wants to get to the other side. Put some stock in a heavily grazed, bare paddock, next to one with lush grass and watch how effective any barrier is.
Conventional wooden fences have to be massive to be truly stock-proof and are usually effective due to the fact that stock does not want to be the other side very much - they have to be far more robust than any laburnum hedge could be.

jon kean's picture

Good point - but these hedges

Good point - but these hedges were originally planted before sheep netting was in use.

Jon Kean

Refugee's picture

Industrial past

The presence of lead mining has come up. This indicates to me that it was used as it grew faster along roads and tracks used for transporting ore that may kill other types of hedging plants. Other types of legume used to be used on slag heaps to prevent landslides in the past.