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A distinctive feature of the West Wales countryside is the many field hedges planted with Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides). They are a joy to behold.  The long yellow flower bunches are incredibly bright and the tree is often referred to as Golden Chain or Golden Rain. Let us explain the laburnum mystery.

In Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, many of the old field hedges are ablaze with Laburnum in spring and it remains a mystery why a plant which is highly poisonous to farm animals (and humans) was planted so widely along field boundaries.  Some people believe that the trees have grown from fencing posts put in by farmers many years ago and certainly the wood of Laburnum is very strong and hard. Livestock appear to survive quite happily grazing in the fields.

The heart-wood of Laburnum was often used a substitute for Ebony and with its bright yellow outer wood it remains popular for tool handles and crafts – perhaps resourceful West Wales farmers were attracted to such a versatile material, or maybe they wanted to emulate the great stately home gardens where it was a popular choice as a specimen tree.

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