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

Why 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 (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 highway.

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 Cut
Broom Cutters in action