Not Scotch Broom?
Dear Editor... June 23, 2006
Those who have not personally experienced the growth habits of Scotch
broom, may not realize why volunteers of broombusters.org (some
of which are Scottish) and others, are putting in such efforts to
contain its spread. We do NOT hate Scotch broom - only its aggressive
way of spreading. No one would mind broom, if it could be contained.
As brilliant as its yellow flowers are in spring, Scotch broom is
an aggressive colonizer. A non-native, it invades everywhre, and
overpowers all other species. Our delicate native plants can not
withstand the hearty Scotch broom.
Consider the cost to our economy: Many people suffer severe allergies
from pollen during the 2-3 months that broom is in flower. That's
a heavy price for them to pay, in addition to lost productivity
and medical costs.
Called “the scourge of pasture land”, Scotch broom gobbles
up farm land. Scotch broom is a “woody weed.” It grows
a thick wood stem, so it can not be tilled with a tractor. It requires
great expense and effort for years to remove it from fields or pastures.
There are 6 farms on Grafton Ave alone suffering seriously from
broom taking over their fields. An elderly woman, whose husband
went into a nursing home three years ago, has helplessly watched
the broom expand to over 4 acres. Another woman has 3 acres of broom.
At another farm, they are afraid to cut it down - because the wood
stumps, difficult to remove, will be a hazard to their horses and
cows. It’s hard enough for small farms to survive; many farms
will not be able to handle the added weight of this invasive plant.
Scotch broom prevents forests from regrowing. Young trees cannot
compete with broom. When broom enters cleared land, we end up with
a forest of broom. This is a disaster to native plants, animals,
and the eco-system - as well as the forest and tourist industries.
The beauty of the natural forests is one of the main reasons visitors
come here - and why we live here. Broom on trails is a hazard to
hikers, mountain bikers, skiers. And the highly combustible oils
in broom makes it a fire hazard - on the mountains and beside the
The problem is that broom spreads so quickly. A single plant can
produce thousands of seeds. Where you see a single plant this year,
you will see many the next. Within a few years it will be a broom
forest. Just drive Hwy 19, Hwy 4 or Alberni Hwy, and watch the broom
forests spread. Those who enjoy seeing the grasses and lupine growing
side by side with the broom should take a picture. Soon they will
only see broom. Broom kills all wildflowers, native grasses, shrubs
and young trees. In any competition in the sun, broom wins.
So the reasons to bust broom? Farm land is made useless; forests
cannot regrow; wild flowers, grasses and young trees are strangled.
A single Scotch broom can be a charming plant; but the reckless
and insidious spread of broom is a disaster. If we work together,
we can get broom under control. Then we can all enjoy it - here
and there but not everywhere.
Thank you, Joanne Sales
Before the Community
Broom Cutters in action