We field occasional botany questions, particularly where related to Chumash ethnobotany. Please direct pure botany questions to the expertise of our neighbors at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

What kind of plant is this?

This small tree just suddenly popped up in our backyard. Can you help us identify what it is?

Lauren, Santa Barbara, near the SB Natural History Museum - April 11, 2020

Curator Response

Hi Lauren,

That looks like French broom, Genista monspessulana, an invasive non-native shrub in the pea family. There’s a lot of it crowding out native chaparral species on San Marcos Pass, especially on the Santa Ynez Valley side, just past the crest.

It may look kind of pretty now, but you should probably pull it out before it sets seed.

Stay curious,

Curator Emeritus of Anthropology Jan Timbrook, Ph.D.

PS: Ethnobotany is one of my areas of expertise, which is why you have an anthropologist answering your plant question. My botanist husband Steve, Director Emeritus of Lotusland, agrees with this ID.