Desert broom

Like most native brooms Carmichaelia petriei or desert broom is very hardy and well adapted to the conditions in Te Manahuna. It is endemic to New Zealand and found in the South Island as far north as the Mackenzie and as far south as Rakiura/Steward Island.

It’s a leafless shrub which can grow up to 2m tall and in the project area the leafless branches are usually yellowish at the tips (in less dry areas it can be greener). Desert broom has purple and white flowers, similar to the flowers of sweet peas. It flowers from November to January.

It has pea-like flowers because brooms belong to the legume family Fabaceae. Legumes fix nitrogen in the soil through special root nodules and therefore cope well in poorly developed soils. Seeds are produced from January to May and dispersed by the wind.

It’s scientific name is a nod to botanists Dugald Carmichael (a Scottish botanist who the Carmichaelia genus was named for) and Donald Petrie who was a Scottish born Otago botanist.

Photos : Wikimedia Commons John Barkla and Robyn Janes