AppearanceThe plant is small deciduous tree or large shrubs up to 7 metres tall. It has smooth bark, dark green spreading branches and pendulous and pubescent twigs. The leaves have a long petioles, are smooth on the upperside and hairy on the underside.
''L. anagyroides'' blooms in late spring with pea-like, yellow flowers densely packed in pendulous racemes 10-25 cm long. The flowers are golden yellow, sweet scented, and typically bloom in May.
The seeds are legumes with large numbers of black seeds that contain cytisine, an alkaloid extremely poisonous to humans but also goats and horses, especially when not ripe. However, some wild animals such as hares and deer can feed on them without any problems, and because of this the plant is believed to have magic properties in some regions.
All parts of the plant contain cytisine and are poisonous if consumed.
UsesThe wood is hard and heavy, of a yellow/brown colour, ideal for making posts, for woodturning and as fuel. In the past it was used for making bows.
The tree is also known as ''false ebony'' since the wood from very old specimens could be used in place of ebony.
CulturalThe English poet Francis Thompson described the ''laburnum'' in one of his poems:
Mark yonder, how the long laburnum dripsIts jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame!—Francis Thompson, ''Sister Songs''
The writer J. R. R. Tolkien was inspired by the ''laburnum'' for his creation of Laurelin, one of the two mythological trees in The Silmarillion, and Tolkien's description of it is strongly influenced by Thompson's verses.
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