VANCOUVER ISLAND (NEWS1130) – From afar it looks like pretty yellow flowers but not much stands in its destructive way. Scotch Broom is a rapidly spreading, highly flammable, invasive plant that is choking out native plant-life in BC.
“People think it is pretty. At first when they move to the Island they go, ‘oh look at those beautiful yellow flowers’ but it is more than that. It is simply not a native plant,” explains Joanne Sales with Broombusters, a network of volunteers committed to fighting the pesky weed.
“It strangles the native plants,” she says. “The native plants simply cannot grow as fast or as tall. Broom can grow 10-15 feet tall.”
Even when the plants are small, she claims broom can prevent growth, “It changes the chemistry of the soil. It has certain kinds of toxins it puts in the soil which it makes difficult for other plants to grow around it.”
With the dry season coming, there’s a huge risk that it could help a wildfire spread because it has a high quantity of oil within it.
But right now, it can be stopped. Those yellow flowers are a great way to know that the wicked plant is vulnerable. Sales says that when in bloom, you can cut down the broom. Then it won’t have a chance to go to seed and it will die.
“It’s not that hard to get rid of it, in the beginning stages,” she explains. “It’s very important for people to recognize that if you cut the Scotch Broom down when it is in bloom, it will die. All you have to do is get all the way down to the ground and cut it at ground level. You don’t want to disturb the roots. You don’t want to pull it out.”
Sales encourages people to get rid of growth on their property or pitch in to remove it from public property, that would go a long way.
Qualicum Beach is nearly broom-free, though the fight continues for much of Vancouver Island. She says the Lower Mainland could eliminate it as well if people work with their city governments.
She adds that invasive plants are one of the greatest causes of a loss of biodiversity globally – and it’s not just BC dealing with Scotch Broom. It is classified as a noxious invasive species in California and the Pacific Northwest in North America, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and India.
There are estimates that Scotch Broom is responsible for $47 million in lost timber production each year in Oregon.
The invasive woody weed was fight brought to Vancouver Island over 150 years ago and numerous times since.
From the Broombusters website:
Broombusters are ordinary folk who get out their loppers in May and June and cut down the flowering plants wherever we see them. This will not eliminate the broom from the Island, but hopefully will contain its spread – until a better solution comes forward.
You can find out how to help on their website.