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Petty Whin

Genista anglica

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 Greenweed, 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, 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
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, heathland, moorland, seaside.

Yellow, 5 petals
The yellow, pea-like flowers appear in short spikes. They measure between 7 and 10mm across. The keel petals are the longest.
Short, inflated, pea-like pods.
Small, pointed, oval, dark green leaves. The wiry stems are usually have long but weak spines. A hairless perennial.
Other Names:
English Broom, Needle Furze, Needle Whin, Prickly Broom.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Genista anglica, also known as English broom, is a species of evergreen shrub in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Western Europe, particularly the British Isles, and is known for its bright yellow flowers that appear in late spring to early summer. The plant has a low-growing, spreading habit and can reach up to 4 ft tall and wide. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. English broom is a tough and durable plant, making it a good choice for coastal gardens or as ground cover. It is tolerant of poor soil and drought conditions. However, it can be invasive in certain areas, and care should be taken not to plant it in areas where it can easily spread into wild landscapes.


Petty whin is a small shrub that is native to the UK and is also commonly known as English gorse or prickly broom. This charming little plant is a member of the pea family and is easily recognizable by its bright yellow flowers that bloom profusely in the spring. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the characteristics and cultural requirements of petty whin, making it an ideal choice for your garden.

Appearance and Characteristics: Petty whin is a small shrub that typically grows to a height of 1-2 meters and a spread of 1-1.5 meters. It has a dense, compact habit and is covered in small, needle-like leaves. In the spring, it produces an abundance of bright yellow, pea-like flowers that are a joy to behold. The flowers are followed by small, green seed pods that mature into large, brown seed pods in the summer.

Cultivation and Care: Petty whin is a hardy plant that will grow in a variety of soils, including sandy, loamy, or clay soils. It is a tough plant that is able to withstand exposure to salt spray, making it an excellent choice for coastal gardens. It is best grown in full sun or partial shade, and once established, it is very drought-tolerant. Pruning should be done after flowering to encourage new growth.

Uses: Petty whin is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. It is a great choice for a low-maintenance hedge or as a specimen plant. It also makes an excellent addition to wildlife gardens as it provides food and habitat for birds, insects, and small mammals. Additionally, petty whin is a popular choice for use in erosion control on slopes, as it has a deep root system that helps to stabilize the soil.

In conclusion, petty whin (Genista anglica) is a delightful little shrub that is perfect for a variety of garden styles and conditions. With its bright yellow flowers, tough growing habits, and versatility in the landscape, it's a great addition to any garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, petty whin has also been used for a variety of medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has astringent, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and was traditionally used to treat a range of ailments, including skin conditions, respiratory problems, and digestive disorders. It is also believed to have been used as a treatment for urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

However, it is important to note that petty whin can also be toxic in large doses, so it is essential to use caution and seek professional advice before using it for medicinal purposes.

Petty whin is also a valuable plant in the livestock industry, as it is a good source of food for sheep and goats, and is also used as a winter feed for cattle. The seeds and foliage of the plant are high in protein, and the tough stems and leaves make excellent bedding material for animals.

Petty whin is a highly invasive species in many countries, including New Zealand, where it has become a significant environmental weed. Its rapid growth, ability to produce large numbers of seeds, and its tendency to outcompete native species, make it a problem in many areas. If you are planting petty whin in an area where it is invasive, it is important to take steps to control its growth, such as removing seed pods before they mature and establishing a weed-free zone around the plant.

Petty whin is a fascinating and versatile plant that has a rich cultural history and a range of uses. Whether you're looking to add a touch of color to your garden, or you're searching for a plant that can provide food and habitat for wildlife, petty whin is definitely worth considering. Just be mindful of its invasive nature, and take steps to control its growth if necessary.

Another important aspect to consider when planting petty whin is its use as a fuel source. In many rural areas, petty whin has been used for centuries as a source of fuel for cooking and heating. The dried stems and branches of the plant make excellent firewood, and the leaves and small twigs can be used as kindling to start fires.

Petty whin is also an important plant in many cultural and traditional practices. In Scotland, it was used to make besoms, or broomsticks, which were used to clean chimneys and sweep floors. In Ireland, petty whin was traditionally used to make baskets and matting, and was also used in the construction of thatched roofs.

Despite its invasive nature and potential toxicity, petty whin remains a popular plant in many parts of the world, and is widely grown in gardens, parks, and public spaces. Its bright yellow flowers, attractive foliage, and tough growing habits make it an ideal choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for and provides year-round interest.

In conclusion, petty whin is a fascinating and versatile plant that has a rich cultural history and a range of uses. Whether you're looking for a source of fuel, a plant for your garden, or a part of cultural and traditional practices, petty whin is a plant that is definitely worth considering. Just be mindful of its invasive nature and potential toxicity, and take steps to control its growth if necessary.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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