One of the earliest memories I have of the Laburnum tree is of staring out of my parent’s bedroom window, watching the beautifully long and delicate racemes of bright yellow flowers, swaying in the breeze.
There were many Laburnum trees growing in the neighbourhood when I was young. I can remember my sadness as they were all mercilessly cut down, as they posed a threat to the local children.
It is said that the Laburnum and Lilac would mourn, if a tree of like kind was cut down in their vicinity, by not blooming the next year. But there were no more Laburnum to watch for blooms nearby, they were all gone. I can remember laying flowers on the stumps that were left behind.
Every part of this tree is poisonous you see, and the seeds that develop after flowering are particularly so. I was fascinated by them, awed by their beauty, but I would always keep a safe distance from them. My mother warned me how poisonous they were, especially since I loved to snack on freshly shucked peas straight from the pod, and the seed pods of the Tree of Golden Rain are very similar.
The Laburnum were introduced to the UK in Elizabethan times from the mountains of Southern Europe and has proved hardy, decorative and useful ever since. It’s heartwood is the most gorgeous shade of deep olive brown, surrounded by contrasting creamy-yellow sapwood. It is ideal for turning, and was once widely used for bagpipe parts.
If you look closely at the flowers and their fresh green, clover like foliage you can see that this stunning tree is actually part of the pea family, which makes the Laburnum a close relative to Scotch Broom.
Like it’s cousin, Broom, it is beloved of Bees, extremely protective and great for purification. Hares and deer can feed on parts of this tree without any issues at all, and because of this the plant is believed to have magic properties in some regions.
It is a gateway tree. It challenges you. It reminds us that beauty can also be deadly.
Recently, I have been having a lot of dreams in which it features pretty heavily.
I look forward to what it has to teach me…