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Hairy Greenweed

Genista pilosa

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, grassland, heathland, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The inflorescence is a flower spike. Flowers are pea-like and measure from 7 to 11mm across.
Downy, pea-like pods.
This is a low-growing, prostrate shrub with evergreen foliage. The leaves are dark green, oval and hairy beneath. The stems are green.
Other Names:
Creeping Broom, Creeping Hairy Broom, Silkyleaf Broom, Silkyleaf Woadwaxen.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Genista pilosa, also known as hairy greenweed, is a perennial, low-growing shrub that belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe and North Africa, including the Mediterranean region. The plant has small, bright green, hairy leaves and yellow pea-like flowers that appear in the late spring and early summer. The plant forms dense mats and often is found in rocky, calcareous soils, grasslands, and along roadsides and waste places. Some studies suggest that it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It's often used as an ornamental plant and it's a drought-tolerant plant.


Hairy Greenweed, also known as Genista pilosa, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Fabaceae family. This plant is native to Europe and can be found in countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Hairy Greenweed is a small shrub that grows up to 60 centimeters in height and can spread up to 90 centimeters in width. The plant has small, yellow flowers that bloom in the summer, typically between June and August.

One of the defining characteristics of Hairy Greenweed is its leaves. The leaves of this plant are small, green, and hairy, giving it its distinctive appearance. The hairs on the leaves help the plant to conserve moisture and protect it from insects and other pests. The stems of Hairy Greenweed are also covered in hairs, which are a light brown color and help to give the plant its unique texture.

Hairy Greenweed is an incredibly hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils and environments. It is commonly found growing in dry, rocky areas, such as cliffs, hillsides, and scrublands. This plant is well-adapted to these types of environments and is able to survive on very little water. In fact, it is often used as a drought-tolerant landscaping plant in areas with low rainfall.

Despite its hardiness, Hairy Greenweed is not without its challenges. This plant is sometimes considered a weed in certain areas, as it can spread rapidly and compete with other plants for resources. In addition, it can be toxic to livestock, particularly sheep, if ingested in large quantities. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with Hairy Greenweed and to take appropriate measures to control its growth in areas where it may be harmful.

Despite its challenges, Hairy Greenweed is a valuable plant for its beauty and hardiness. Its yellow flowers add a pop of color to dry, rocky landscapes and it is an important source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. With its unique appearance and ability to thrive in challenging environments, Hairy Greenweed is a fascinating plant that is worth learning more about.

Hairy Greenweed has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. In some cultures, it has been used as a medicinal herb to treat conditions such as respiratory infections and skin irritations. The plant has also been used in traditional dyeing, as its leaves and stems contain a yellow dye that can be used to color fabrics.

In addition to its practical uses, Hairy Greenweed has also played a role in art and literature. The plant has been depicted in paintings by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, who painted a series of works featuring the plant in 1889. In literature, Hairy Greenweed has been referenced in poems and prose by authors such as John Keats and Robert Browning.

Today, Hairy Greenweed is often used in landscaping as a drought-tolerant plant that can add texture and color to gardens and other outdoor spaces. It is particularly well-suited to xeriscaping, which is a type of landscaping that uses plants that require very little water. Hairy Greenweed's hardiness and ability to thrive in dry environments make it an ideal choice for xeriscaping.

In conclusion, Hairy Greenweed is a fascinating and versatile plant that has played a role in history, art, and literature. Despite its challenges as a potential weed and toxicity to livestock, it is valued for its hardiness, beauty, and ability to thrive in challenging environments. As with any plant, it is important to be aware of its characteristics and potential risks, but Hairy Greenweed remains an interesting and valuable part of the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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