Herb: Laburnum

Latin name: Laburnum anagyroides

Synonyms: Cytisus laburnum, Laburnum vulgare

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Laburnum:

The seed contains the poisonous alkaloid "cystisine". This has been used in the treatment of whooping cough and asthma.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Woods and scrub on limestone.

Other uses of Laburnum:

This plant is often used as a rootstock for other members of the pea and bean family. The seeds contain the poisonous alkaloid "cytisine". This has insecticidal properties similar to nicotine (Nicotiana spp.) but cannot be recommended for used since it needs to be used in such a concentration that it can then be absorbed over a wide area of the body with possibly fatal results. Wood - coarse grained, durable, dark coloured and very hard, it can be used as an ebony substitute. It is much in demand among turners, and is used in making instruments and furniture especially where strength and smoothness are important.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse or cold frame. Germination is usually very quick and good. Prick out indoor-sown seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Another option is to pre-soak the stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in an outdoor seed bed in early spring. These plants an be allowed to grow on in the seedbed for two years before planting them out in the winter. Cuttings of mature wood in late winter planted in the open ground.

Cultivation of Laburnum:

Woods and scrub on limestone.

Known hazards of Laburnum anagyroides:

All parts of the plant, and especially the seed, are poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.