Getting rid of Scotch Broom

dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)November 25, 2007

My DH is out cutting off scotch broom as low as he can get on the stem. Is this ok or will it resprout from the stump? A local man has an invention called a Pullerbear that I might get him for Christmas if the cutting off is no good. Thanks for advice.

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novita(SWB.C. z8)

Hi Dotty, I have cut quite a bit of this on our property and as far as I know it doesn't grow back if you cut it low. Pesky stuff!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 6:20PM
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I have also had similar experience that Novita has had, cutting them down low on mature wood and they didn't come back. The smaller plants are easy to rip out of the ground and of course they don't come back either.

Myself, I really like Scotch Broom. Its bright cheery yellow flowers brighten up our gloomy, grey, rainy Pacific Northwest scenery in the spring. It provides cover and seeds for birds, specially my favorite, the Valley Quail. I have allowed a few of them to continue to grow around my house because of those qualities. I am even thinking of growing a hedge of them. Trimming them back after flower so that they don't go to seed.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 10:32PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I like the bloom on it too but only on the sides of the roads. I have a couple of tame brooms that I love. Spartium junceum grows into a lovely 6 foot ball of bloom, and the little mounding ones are nice too. Thanks for the info Novita and Issafish.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 11:50AM
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madrone(VancIsl BC)

Scotch Broom or Cystisus scoparius has been declared an invasive plant in BC as well as in Washington state. It quickly takes over, taking the space where native plants used to grow. Since it seeds so prolifically, everyone is encouraged to remove it whenever possible. Issafish, perhaps you might consider some of the other noninvasive brooms, otherwise you might find "broombusters" on your doorstep some day :-). You'll probably find the quail will still come around even if you replace it with something that isn't a thug.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 1:06AM
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kalmia10(z7 WA)

I have to concur with Madrone and unfortunately add in the fact that Spartium junceum is listed in Washington State as a "Class A" noxious weed. "Class A" means it receives the highest priority for control here. So watch those wiley brooms - many are considered invasive and/or legally declared noxious.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 11:46AM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I planted Spartium junceum in a new border 4 years ago. It has not set one plant yet. This plant was recommended by a woman who teaches the Master Gardening class at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. I wonder if its inclusion on Noxious Weed list is in error?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 12:26PM
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One scotch broom tree popped up here to my astonishment (hardly any ground left for anything to latch onto) and rapidly grew to over 8' tall. It is still growing fast. Its trunk is getting thick. It appeared last spring so it hasn't even been a year in the ground. If anymore sprout I'll have to pull them up but I'm going to leave the big tree in because it's giving greenery to an area that needs it. Very unexpected and so fast! Will have to take a picture of it soon. Tallest one I've ever seen. It gets regular watering.

What kind of root system does a scotch broom have?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 12:52PM
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kalmia10(z7 WA)

Dotty - the information on Spartium in Washington is in the link below, including the reasoning for adding it to the state's weed list. Hope it's helpful.

My experience has been that just because a plant doesn't seed readily right next to itself doesn't mean that it isn't spreading elsewhere. Might explain all of those buddleja, daphne, laurel, ivy and scotch broom seedlings popping up in my yard every year from the plants that my neighbors insist aren't producing any seedlings. Just a thought...

Here is a link that might be useful: Spartium in Washington

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 3:18PM
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It's hard to argue that scotch broom is a scourge and we'd be better off without it. I sort of like the cultivar 'Carla' which is an actual deep red with a white center. I don't imagine this and other sterile scotch broom cultivars ever really catching on though, given the bad PR this plant gets.

Spartium, on the other hand, I have seen persist for a long time without reseeding itself. I don't really see it as being competitive enough up here to pose a serious threat, except perhaps in a few very mild, dry, gravelly areas with little other vegetation. So I think we are more scared of it than we need to be. But, I don't insist on planting one either... there are so many other plants one can use in one's garden.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 3:50PM
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novita(SWB.C. z8)

I like Spartium too - have had one for 15 years and have never seen a seedling. It actually doesn't produce very many seeds. I love it for its scent. I can't see it becoming invasive here either, but I did see it growing wild all over the place in the S of France, who knows!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 5:24PM
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>>It's hard to argue that scotch broom is a scourge and we'd be better off without it.

Pardon me, that was a typo. I meant, it's NOT hard....
Scotch broom is a problem.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 5:38PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Multicolored garden cultivars often listed as hybrids rather than pure forms of C. scoparius.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 11:03PM
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I don't feel that Scotch broom is a problem in the Northwest. I have lived here for over fifty eight years and haven't seen any more Scotch broom here now than back in the 1950's. I have also seen disturbed areas like abandoned gravel pits being colonized by Scotch broom, then the Scotch Broom being eliminated by willows and black cottonwood, and now those willows and cottonwood are starting to be over grown by western red cedar, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and Douglas fir. Of course with our state's human population growing so fast most disturbed places don't get a chance to have a secession of plant communities. They are always in a pioneer stage where plants like Scotch broom excel, being a pioneer species that it is.

Scotch broom is not on Washington State's A list, Spanish Broom, Spartium junceum is on that list. Scotch Broom is on Washington's B list, which means according to Washington State Noxious Weed Board the following:
"Class B Noxious Weeds: Non-native species that are either absent from or limited in distribution in some portions of the state but very abundant in other areas. The goals are to contain the plants where they are already widespread and prevent their spread into new areas."

That means each county or politic subdivision makes up its mind about how they will handle the plant. It doesn't mean that the "Plant Police" will come knocking at my door because this plant is so deadly it will destroy civilization as we know it. Tell me this you native plant nuts, (I love native plants and manage a native plant garden where I work, but I like exotics also) why are not sweet cherry and pie cherry on the noxious weed list. They both are spreading in our woods as thick as scotch broom is spreading in man disturbed lands. On top of that they are doing something that scotch broom isn't, they are hybridizing with a native plant, Bitter Cherry, Prunus emarginata. Speaking of which the domestic apple is also hybridizing with our native Pacific Crab Apple, Malus fusca. These fruit trees are threatening the genetic survivability of our native fruit trees. So if you Native Plant nuts were not so ignorant and/or hypocritical then you would ask the Weed Boards why they don't put those plants on the weed list along with Scotch broom. I would have more respect for you if you did. These fruits should not even be sold at the grocery since people spitting the seeds out can spread these plants much like the birds are doing. To my way of thinking, the only reason those fruit trees are not on at least the "B" list is that there are people making big money from them, while there are not any making money from Scotch broom.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 11:19PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>I have lived here for over fifty eight years and haven't seen any more Scotch broom here now than back in the 1950'sDepends on where you look, and what you see when you look there.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 1:41PM
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homernoy(z8b Bemerton)

No matter what anyone does, it's here to stay. I can't imagine that a few people planting them as ornamentals would make much of a difference when there are thousands growing wild nearby.

I have noticed more and more Cortaderia volunteering in strange places. Anyone else notice this? In Kenmore, there are quite a few growing in a stand/forest of Birch. Used to be only a couple right by the road, now they have gone into the Birch stand, as well as many more in a wet ditch. I can't see them ever going away, unless erraticated with extreme prejudice. Severe freezes will just take them to the ground, not kill them. Now that they have a will be difficult to get rid of them. Does anyone discourage the planting of Pampass grass in the retail nurseries in the area?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 3:38PM
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kalmia10(z7 WA)

Cortaderia spp. was just added to the State's Monitor List. It's a non-regulatory and educational listing at this point. Cortaderia is a big problem in California and is "jumping the fence" a bit here, showing up in odd places in Washington now, as you've observed, homernoy. Based on what I've seen of its behavior locally, I would not plant it here.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 5:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Many of those appearing here in recent years along highways and freeways, usually right off the pavement. I have also seen a small mass of them in Fauntleroy Creek(?), right before it enters the culvert to go under Fauntleroy Way, just up from the ferry dock.

"Naturalized rarely in warm dry sites"


    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 5:51PM
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I've been seeing Cortaderia pop up a lot too. I think it has potential to be invasive here, though it doesn't seem to be spreading very fast.

We'd see a lot less scotch broom if we didn't have so many cleared, deforested areas that aren't put to immediate use. Still, I consider it to be problematic because in some cases I have seen it invade wild, undisturbed areas - especially in drier microhabitats with manzanita, Ceanothus, etc.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 10:33PM
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Cortaderia, very interesting that it is now spreading. Pampas grass has been grown in the NW for a long time without spreading. It was thought for a long time that NW summers were too cool for the seeds to ripen so it was safe to grow here, unlike California. Something changed, either the weather, the plant, or something else. I wonder what other southern hemisphere plant will follow? I know one southern hemisphere plant that native plant nuts hate worst than scotch broom, that is eucalyptus. There are eucalyptus enthusiast who are searching for the cold hardiest sources of seed from Australia or collecting seeds from long time NW survivors. If these people succeed plus our weather is warming, maybe eucalyptus will become a problem in the northwest like some eucalyptus species are a problem in California.

If you think I am nuts about scotch broom, if the plant police come to cut my eucalyptus down, my 12 gage shotgun will grow hot from all the rock salt I will be blasting at their asses as they run down the road.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 4:29PM
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I cherish my eucs, hope they thrive in this climate change. Have added several this past autumn and hope this winter is mild so they get established and have a better chance of survival.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 6:02PM
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I hope your eucs do well this winter also. You have worked hard caring for them.

The guy you got some of them from, Frank, is one of those guys who is working to find the hardiest sources. So if anyones eucs survive, yours will,


    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 9:56PM
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homernoy(z8b Bemerton)

Not to get too off topic, but has anyone noticed the possible escaped Eucalyptus sp. off of I-5 on the east side of the freeway near the U-District exit(45 or 50th). I noticed it years ago when it was about 3ft tall amongst the tall grass and brush of the freeway plantings. It's now getting to tree size, and looking very healthy, with foliage all the way to the ground. Next time I am in the area I will take a picture.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 10:05PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Those got there through "Guerilla Gardening." Several Colvos Creek nursery seedlings were planted there years ago by a certain customer of theirs who we won't name. The survivor(s) is what you are seeing. I believe part of what is thought to have happened involves WSDOT workers jerking most of them out, apparently overlooking or leaving for other reasons the one(s0 that remain there now.

There has been some re-seeding of large spinning gums seen in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle in years past. The parent trees were spoiled by the 1990 winter.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 3:05PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Not to interupt or anything, but Dotty, yes Scotch broom can and will resprout from even very large stumps cut close to the ground. I've seen it resprout repeatedly after being bulldozed at ground level. They grow massive root systems when you bulldoze them, and you'll never get those out.

The thing to do, is to continue to cut it like you have been, but to spritz a little Roundup or Brush B Gon on the cut end right away. exDH and I used to do this as a team, one cutting, one spritzing. You can get various tools for pulling out Scotch broom but no tool can get every plant. We had it rooted through a glacial hardpan and there's just no pulling it out of that, not even with a tractor. Imagine its roots growing through a layer of concrete. That's when we got out the Roundup.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2007 at 9:41PM
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Please don't invite this weed to exist in our northwest area! (Especially, DO NOT CULTIVATE IT.) Not only is it extremely detrimental to our native plants, -even our lovely evergreen trees- it is toxic AND poisonous to breathe in it's seeds! Scotch Broom is the main ingredient in Pitocin, the medication that induces labor in pregnant women and can cause misscarriages when inhaled by those who are early in pregnancy.

If animals eat of this plant *especially the powdery-yellow seeds* it can cause foaming of the mouth, convultions, and death if not addressed immediately. I was so concerned about this weed's pollen that I wrote an extensive e-mail to WA lawmakers and several other state officials. Not only do I fear for our NW environment, I fear for the health of our citizens, including myself. I am so allergic to this toxic, noxious weed (Scotch Broom) that my whole nose and throat will swell up from the inside out, make it litterally *impossible* to breathe, for about four months (not an exaggeration).

I have lived here in Kitsap County, WA since I was 10 (I'm now 26) and I had NEVER been allergic to anything in my entire life previously. But then one day, about five years ago, these life-threatening symptoms started. For the first two Springs of these occurances, I just thought I was prone to extreme sinus infections and that it was a random thing. But when the same scary symptoms occured the next year, I was sure it had to be something more Insidious.

At long last, I went to a Doctor and found out it was a severe allergy to Scotch Broom. Once Scotch Broom pods start to pop and the seeds spread, even just ONE seed can stay dormant for up to 30 years before growing into a full-blown bush, and if it has access to any water, it can sprout and grow over-night. PLEASE STOP THIS WEED FROM TAKING OVER. My life (as well as many others who are developing these allergies) depend's on it. Thanks for listening, and do your research on this toxic killer before allowing it to grow on your land.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pitocin is Made With Scotch Broom and it is harmful to your heart.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 10:30PM
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What do you do for the allergy symptoms?


    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 6:19PM
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I have the same allergic reaction as Stacy and I'm from BC. Myself and a few others had a nasty reaction to the seeds while out in the field while out doing military training near Victoria. None of us have any other allergies.

Luckily, over-the-counter anti-histamines took care of the symptoms for most of us, except one who had to go to the hospital because of the severity of the allergy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 12:24AM
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Be sure to pull up the young plants when you see them on your patrols. Several years ago our kids would go with me to pull scotch broom & we made it a game to be the 1st one to get 10, then 20, etc. We had hundreds, but now none in the edible gardens, but still along the gravel roads nearby.

Last fall, I found a 2' tall one along the road. I regret that I missed that one because this spring I've been pulling lots of seedlings. I just let them lay where they are & they become part of the edge of the forest.

You have to be diligent about it especially if you have a large area.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:50AM
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