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Scotch Broom

Species
Cytisus scoparius

Scotch broom was introduced to Vancouver Island in 1850 from the Mediterranean region as an ornamental and bank stabilizer . Scotch broom is an invasive plant and one of the toughest, most drought- and sun-tolerant shrubs that grows in BC. The bright yellow pea-flowers are often regarded as a sign of impending summer weather. Scotch broom grows quickly to 2 m or more in poor soil. At a distance when in flower, it is sometimes confused with gorse (Ulex europaeus) but its stems are taller and unarmed.

How does it spread?
Scotch broom spreads rapidly mostly by seeds that are picked up and moved by animals and by vehicles, farm equipment, clothing, footwear and seed-contaminated materials. A mature plant can live up to 25 years and produce hundreds to even thousands of seeds annually that can remain viable in soil for up to 30 years.

Where would I find it?
Ideal growing conditions include recently disturbed areas with full sun exposure in  dry, sandy, rocky areas and infertile soils, with a pH range of between 4.5 -7.5. It also thrives along river banks, in grasslands, and in open woodlands. Scotch broom has spread widely in BC, especially along the coast and in the Southern Interior.

What problems does it cause?
Infestations can escalate wildfire intensity and suppress the growth of native plants and conifer seedlings by releasing toxins into the soil. Though rarely grazed, Scotch broom contains alkaloids making the plant toxic to livestock. The plant can overtake cropland which negatively impacts livestock forage, land values and farmer livelihoods. Infestations can also reduce aesthetics and value of recreational sites.

A provincial initiative coordinated by ISCBC

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