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Scotch broom

Scotch broom

Scotch broom

(Cytisus scoparius)

Priority: -  Contain

Overview

Identification

Loosely branched with brown to green woody five-angled and ridged stems

Lower leaves stalked and have three leaflets; upper leaves are simple and un-stalked; up to 1.25 cm long

Grows 1-3 meters in height

Bright yellow pea-like flowers ,about 2 cm long (sometimes with red markings)

Flat seed pods with fine hairs on edges (when ripe, burst and scatter seeds for meters)

Reproduction

Perennial species that reproduces by seed and lateral bud growth. Mature plants can produce up to 3500 pods, each containing 5–12 seeds. As seedpods dry they split and spiral, expelling the contained seeds up to 5 metres. The plant can also spread to new disturbed areas through seed transport by vehicles and machinery. Due to its affinity for disturbed areas, any disturbance activity, such as land clearing, near infested areas, can enhance spread.

Habitat & Ecology

Grows in open, dry meadows and along roadsides

Impacts

Replaces forage plants, damages or destroys conifer seedlings, and escalates wildfire intensity. Obstructs sight lines along roadways and aggravates breathing allergies.

Management

Manual/Mechanical:

Cut larger plants below ground level before flowering and seed set; smaller plants may be hand pulled in late Spring when the plant is directing its energy into flower and seed production. Due to enormous seed bank and re-sprouting potential, mechanical treatments may need to be repeated over a 3-5 year period.

Chemical:

Selective spot spraying or cut surface application methods are recommended to minimize non-target damage.

Resources

Download the Invasive Species Council of BC's TIPS sheet on Scotch broom here