presence of Scotch broom has many detrimental economic, safety,
and health consequences whenever it spreads.
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 made useless. 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 have been abandoned because of Scotch Broom.
Ministry of Forests and Range http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/publications/00204/
"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 http://www.shim.bc.ca/invasivespecies/_private/Scotchbroom.htm
"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 Plant Council of BC http://www.invasiveplantcouncilbc.ca/invasive-plants-bc/invasive-plant-watch/scotch-broom "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."
Broom TIPS- an informative
PDF document about Scotch broom
Coastal Invasive Plant Committee http://www.coastalinvasiveplants.com/invasive_plants.php?id=33
"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.
in New Zealand. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/news/release.asp?Ne_ID=263
"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 broom quickly fills in open areas, forming
dense stands and choking out native species.”
Parks and Wilderness Society Invasive
Species - BC's Unwelcome Visitors
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 1
Click here 2
Below are excerpts from various websites.
You can find MANY 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
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! (www.weedwrench.com) 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: www.extractigator.com Another
Vancouver Island company produces a removal tool that I have not
used: the Pullerbear. (www.pullerbear.com)."
Thanks for your interest in controlling broom. Good health to the
forests, fields and grasslands!