Types of Plants for Broom Making
Although traditional broom making is a disappearing art in todays modern world, brooms were common in Medieval Europe; their association with witches gave them dubious notoriety but in fact brooms had many uses in every day life. Just as many herbs and plants were used for medicinal purposes, some plant species were also traditionally used to craft brooms.
Types of Plants for Different Broom Uses
According to a research report, Plants Traditionally Used to Make Brooms in Several European Countries, on the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine website, different types of plants were used for brooms, depending on how the broom was going to be used. Local folk nomenclature classified brooms as soft, hard, big or small and were named for their main use. Examples include yard broom and house broom.
Plants from the Ericaceae, Fabaceae and Betulaceae botanical families were used for yard brooms whereas plants from the Astaraceae, Lamiaceae, Apiaceae, Poaceae and Liliaceae botanical families were used for house brooms. House brooms were soft brooms whereas yard brooms were hard brooms.
Aromatic Plants for Broom Making
Aromatic plants are known for their medicinal uses but they also had a place in traditional broom making. Brooms made from aromatic plants were popular for cleaning ovens and stoves because they helped to eliminate any odors. Aromatic plants that were used for broom making include fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), myrtle (Myrtus communis), bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and wild tobacco (Nicotiana glauca).
Trees and Witches Brooms
Brooms and their association with witches were prevalent during Medieval times; people did not always understand the complexity of plants and perhaps the notorious association with witches and their brooms was in part due to a certain disease that attacked specific tree species. According to a report, Witches Brooms on Trees, on the Iowa State University website, a tightly formed cluster of twigs that manifest on various woody plant species and conifers such as pine, maple and willow that occur due to environmental stresses, genetic mutations and other unknown factors, are commonly called witches brooms, as they resemble the shape and look of a traditional broom. Witches were often blamed in Medieval times for unexplainable occurrences such as this. Witches broom formations were ideal as broom making material too.
Plants for Medieval Brooms and Witches Brooms
Plants have been used for tools and implements in many civilizations throughout history and plants that were used for traditional broom making were no exception. Today, you might find it difficult to find a broom made from such plants, but in Medieval times brooms made from plants had several different uses, despite their association with witchcraft.