Friday, April 22, 2005

Scotch Broom

scotch broom Posted by Hello

i took this picture across the street from our driveway.

why is scotch broom (cytisus scoparius) a noxious weed? a native of southern europe and africa, it was introduced to the united states as an ornamental and as a stabilizer for road cuts. it most commonly has bright yellow flowers, sometimes with a touch of red. we met people in the california foothills who collected wild scotch broom with various other colored blossoms. they had solid red, pink, purple, orange, and many shades in between. fields or hillsides covered with bright yellow flowering plants look nice, especially when mixed or adjacent to native blue flowering ceanothus.

it is a noxious weed because it is a prodigious seed producer and the seeds are viable for up to 80 (yes--eighty) years because of their hard coating. the seeds are dispersed sticking to tires, shoes, and animals, and are carried by rain runoff to lower places. the seed pods also sometimes burst open in hot weather and shoot out seeds. it takes over grassland by growing a dense woody cover up to 6 feet tall. though i can't imagine anyone eating it, it is poisonous and listed as toxic to animals. it is very invasive. on train and auto trips between california and washington before we moved north we noticed vast swathes of scotch broom along the highway and along the railroad right-of-way. california, oregon, washington, idaho, hawaii, and british columbia all list it a a noxious weed.

the picture is of the as yet uninhabited area across the street from our place. the whole area, including our property, was logged about 15-20 years ago. native shrubs and trees, fir, alder, and madrone, have covered all but the areas along the road and the areas cleared around the scattering of houses. we are fairly well protected on the road side by a thick screen of fir and alder, and on two other sides by similar screens of trees and native shrubs. we do have one fairly open border with one neighbor and did notice them pulling up scotch broom along the property line, so we did our part by pulling all the small plants which had sprung up on our side.

1 comment:

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