Attractive tree is highly poisonous
Avery attractive small tree I have seen blossoming mainly in gardens this spring is the laburnum tree or golden rain tree.
The bees love this tree and it belongs to the sweet pea family and originates from the Mediterranean region of Europe.
The tree was introduced into Britain in the 16th century.
This tree is very popular and is planted in gardens and parks but occasionally self seeds and pops up in waste ground and waysides across Kent.
The seeds take 18 months to germinate and the tree we see today is usually now a mixture of hybrids between common and scotch laburnum.
The only problem with this tree is that is highly poisonous. All parts of the tree are poisonous, even the leaves, with the alkaloid cytisine being able to be absorbed through the skin if touched. However, it is the black seed pods which attract children who try to eat the seeds.
The wood shows a deep purple chocolate colour inside a paler yellow outer wood and was used as a substitute for ebony, in particular laburnum wood was used for parts of the pipes on bagpipes.
For more information contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership, telephone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk