Cut Broom in Bloom
Vancouver Island & BC Mainland's Grassroots
Scotch Broom
Containment Campaign


About:  What's wrong with Scotch Broom?

Scotch broom is an ALIEN invasive plant that:
Spreads rapidly and densely - anywhere in the sun
Forms dense thickets
Crowds out native plants
Leads to a dramatic loss of diversity
Slows and prevents forest re-growth
Causes allergies
Highly flammable
Toxic to grazing animals
Changes soil chemistry.
Makes farmland useless.
Stop the Bloomin’ Broom

TWO MYTHS about Scotch Broom
You can stop broom, but you have to do it right! If you disturb the soil, hundreds of new broom seeds will sprout. If you CUT BROOM IN BLOOM, at ground level, the broom will die in the summers heat. If you are careful to keep the ground cover intact, the seeds do not sprout (grass, trees, salal, native plants - even weeds!)  So we say, pull tiny broom but cut big broom!
It works!  Qualicum Beach is now 99% broom free, totally from the work of volunteers with town support.

Naturalized is a soft word for a plant that has found balance in the ecosystem. But broom is just getting started. It’s a bully plant and it WILL continue to take over - like it has in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and on & on....
“Naturalised species may become invasive species if they become sufficiently abundant to have an adverse effect on native plants and animals.” That has already happened.

The presence of Scotch broom has many detrimental economic, safety, and health consequences

Scotch Broom is a highly invasive woody weed.
It grows rapidly, crowding out native plants and preventing regrowth, retarding or preventing the growth of many understorey species, preventing the regrowth of forests, leading to a dramatic loss of diversity. It forms dense thickets, shelters feral animals, reduces food for native wildlife, blocks paths and creeklines. Scotch broom also changes soil chemistry, making it unsuitable for local native plants. From three seeds brought to the Island in 1850, it has colonized the southern Island and is moving north at an alarming rate.

Forest Regrowth:
Broom spreads quickly in clear cut forest areas, and makes forest regrowth difficult and sometimes nearly impossible. A developer from the Malahat called Broombusters in June 2007, referring to the 3000 acres that were cleared on the Malahat. “No tree will ever grow there again,” he said. “Broom has covered 500 acres and there is nothing to stop it from covering the rest.”
The Department of Agriculture in Oregon reports, “Scotch broom costs the state of Oregon about $47 million each year by its impact on natural resources, particularly on timber production.” *

Tourist industry:
The bright yellow flowers of broom are pretty at a distance for a couple months of the year. But then it becomes a scraggly, half dead presence, blocking and overwhelming the beautiful fields, flowers and forests of our Island. Broom has become a serious tripping hazard on hiking and mountain bike trails. All of these things make Vancouver Island less enjoyable than it was.

Fire Concerns:
Scotch broom is highly flammable, making it a hazard everywhere, especially along highways and in dry forest areas. It has a high oil content, and parts of the bush die off naturally on mature plants, so there is always dead wood, even on “healthy” plants. Having broom lining our highways is a serious fire hazard.

Health Concerns:
Many people have allergic reactions to Scotch broom, resulting in headaches, breathing difficulties, burning eyes, etc. for the two months it is in bloom. As the plant spreads and becomes more dense, the health situation worsens.

Scotch Broom Threatens Farmland:
Broombusters began on Grafton Avenue in Errington, BC. On Grafton Avenue alone, there are six farms whose pastures have been overrrun by Scotch broom. Once the woody weed takes root, a tractor can no longer till it, and if mowed, it develops multiple stalks that become denser and harder to remove. It creates a tripping danger for horses and other livestock. Pasture land is very difficult to reclaim. It has to be cut or pulled out, one plant at a time. Few small farmers have the time, resources or strength to deal with it, so it continues to spread. With all the justified concern about food security on the Island and elsewhere, we need to keep our pastures and fields open and tillable. Farms in New Zealand, Australia, and world wide have been abandoned because of Scotch Broom.

Important links About Scotch Broom

Ministry of Forests and Range
"It is important that broom is recognized as a threat to our biodiversity and preventative measures be taken to arrest its spread." "As many of our native species cannot effectively compete with broom, they are being replaced." "However, it is now known that the leaves, buds and pods of broom contain toxic chemicals or substances that can affect the nervous system and the heart."

BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food
"Scotch broom is known as a 'prolific seed producer' with up to 18,000 seeds per plant which spread by wind, small animals, water and humans. These seeds are protected with a seed coat that can delay germinating for over 30 years... This plant also tends to acidify surrounding soil, preventing other species from establishing. "

Invasive Species Council of BC -
"Scotch Broom invades rangelands, replacing forage plants, and is a serious competitor to conifer seedlings; Douglas fir plantation failures in Oregon and Washington have been credited to infestations of this plant."
Scotch Broom TIPS- an informative PDF document about Scotch broom

Coastal Invasive Species Committee
"These seemingly harmless ornamentals are aggressive and damaging to our natural environment. Residents are encouraged to remove plants on their property." Read about other invasive alien plants on this site.

Broom in New Zealand.
"Broom infestations result in the loss of productive farmland and forestry. The high cost of control can make farming unprofitable and unsustainable... The cost of broom to farming in New Zealand was recently estimated to be about $10 million a year."

BC Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks Invasive Plant Management Plan / Appendix 10
“Scotch broomis an aggressive invader in open or disturbed ecosystems. Broom is successful because it fixes its own nitrogen, is drought and cold tolerant, and builds up a long-lived 'seed bank' in the soil. Scotch broom quickly fills in open areas, forming dense stands and choking out native species.”

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Invasive Species - BC's Unwelcome Visitors

About Gorse
People often confuse gorse and Scotch broom. They are cousins but quite different.
Gorse blooms a month earlier than broom, and is much harder to get rid of. Broom has no thorns - but gorse has harsh thorns. It is also known as Irish Hedge. Broom can be removed by cutting but gorse requires that you remove the roots, and often requires use of an herbicide.
Click here

Below are excerpts from various websites.
You can find much more by searching the Internet.

The infestation of Scotch broom is moving north on Vancouver Island. It is aggressive, spreads rapidly, growing so dense that it is often impenetrable. It prevents reforestation, creates a high fire hazard, renders rangeland worthless and greatly increases the cost of maintenance of roads, ditches, power and telephone lines. Even wildlife suffers as the growth becomes too dense for quail to thrive and there is no forage left for deer. They must move to new ranges or starve. Being slightly toxic and unpalatable it is browsed very little by livestock... read on... (Mobley)

The introduction of Scotch broom on Vancouver Island is described as "in 1850, by Captain Walter Grant, from some seeds he had picked up in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) from the British consul." (Pojar, Plants of Coastal British Columbia, 1994.) Three plants germinated at Sooke and now colonize southern Vancouver Island. Scotch broom grows so well in this area that it's driven out many native plants. The seeds and flowers contain several toxic alkaloids and shouldn't be eaten.

For those who say that they actually like Scotch broom, let’s hope they like it an awful lot! Because once you have Scotch broom, Scotch broom is all you get! Scotch broom does not allow any other plants to survive. Even reforestation is prohibited.

Broom spreads aggressively into stands of native vegetation, endangering open grasslands and hillsides. Most broom-infested areas create high fire hazards because of the plants flammability, fuel load (amount of plant material that will burn), and its frequent location on steep slopes. In forest clearings competition with broom prevents the reforestation of tree seedlings. Broom also changes the nutrient dynamics of the site because of its ability to fix nitrogen (Eldon 1994).

Broom can invade pastures, cultivated fields, dry scrubland, native grasslands, dry riverbeds, roadsides, and other travel corridors. Although it does not grow well in forested areas, it can rapidly establish following disturbances such as logging, land clearing, or burning (Williams 1981). Broom will usually not regenerate from roots. (But zillions of seedlings will be there to contend with.)

There is discussion about whether or not broom should be removed or cut. It's best NOT to disturb the soil. However, in cases where root removal is desired, there are woody weed removal tools.

"I first used the Weed Wrench (TM). I only weigh about 120 lbs, but was able to remove a 5 foot tall scotch broom plant - and its roots - by myself in about 3 minutes! ( The Extractigator is another Invasive Plant Removal tool, originally designed for removing Scotch Broom on Vancouver Island. Its unique shape allows for maximum pulling force, with less strain and less operator fatigue. See it in use at: Another Vancouver Island company produces a removal tool that I have not used: the Pullerbear. ("

Thanks for your interest in controlling broom. Good health to the forests, fields and grasslands!

“Some people may look at the golden hillsides resulting from Scotch broom and think it’s a pretty wildflower that belongs in (the Pacific Northwest). That’s the farthest thing from the truth. Scotch broom costs the state of Oregon about $47 million each year by its impact on natural resources, particularly on timber production.” Tim Butler, supervisor for the Oregon, Department of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed Program