Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) is often admired as a beautiful ornamental species. With bright yellow flowers and leathery green stems, it is certainly attractive; however, it is considered a highly invasive plant. This woody perennial shrub can be identified by its yellow pea-like flowers that bloom in May, and flat brown seed pods.
Broom is originally from Scotland, and was brought to BC in the 1850’s as a garden ornamental. Since then, this seemingly harmless plant has spread dramatically throughout the Coastal region of BC and is now moving into some areas of the Southern Interior. Scotch broom along with other broom varieties, such as Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), “jump the garden fence” invading roadsides and sensitive ecosystems throughout the Sea to Sky.
These seemingly harmless ornamentals are aggressive and damaging to our natural environment. Residents are encouraged to remove plants on their property. Small seedlings (less than a pencil width) can be pulled when the soil is moist. Larger plants must be cut down, preferably in May when the flowers are out but have not yet gone to seed. It is important to try to prevent plants from going to seed as this is the major method of spread. Broom does not grow well in shade, so to prevent mature stalks from re-growing; the cut stumps should be covered with plastic to prevent light access. It is also important to remove cut plant material from desirable areas as these old plant parts will release toxins into the soil that prevent re-establishment of desirable plants.
- loosely branched with green, slender ribbed branches and small, simple leaves up to half an inch long
- grows from 3 to 10 feet in height
- bright yellow flowers are pea-like, about three-quarters of an inch long
- its seed is borne in dark brown to black hairy, flattened pea-like pods, which when ripe, burst and scatter seeds for yards
- Scotch broom grows primarily in open, dry meadows and along roadsides
- It is often confused with Spanish broom (another invasive, right), which looks similar but is easily distinguished by its rounded, bright green stems, fragrant blossoms, and later flowering time