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Spanish/Scotch Broom

In 2008, Nevada County's Agricultural Commissioner, Jeff Pylman, issued a letter prohibiting the importation, propagation, or sale of all broom varieties of plants as ornamental landscaping in Nevada County. 

Where is it from?
Scotch broom is native to Europe and North Africa.  Introduced to California in the 1850s as an ornamental plant in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it was later used to prevent soil erosion and stabilize dunes.  Now, responsible agencies recognize that it is highly aggressive and forms dense, monotypic stands which reduce wildlife habitat.

What makes it a "BAD" plant?
  • It is highly flammable, making it a hazard everywhere, especially along highways and in dry forest areas.  It has a high oil content.  As parts of the bush die off naturally on mature plants, there is always dead wood - even on “healthy” plants. Add to that the fuel load (amount of plant material that will burn) and its frequent location on steep slopes, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Having broom lining our roadways is a serious fire hazard.
  • It prevents reforestation of tree seedlings and renders rangeland worthless by changing the nutrient dynamics of the soil and preventing other species from establishing. 
  • It is aggressive, spreads rapidly, and grows so dense that it is often impenetrable.  Wildlife and livestock suffer as the growth becomes too dense to penetrate and there is no forage left. Wildlife must move to new ranges or starve.
  • Scotch broom is a prodigious seed producer.  Each bush averages 2,000 to 3,500 seed pods with several seeds per pod. The seeds have hard coats enabling them to survive in the environment for more than 80 years. 
  • It is toxic to both animals and humans.
How do you get rid of it?
Eradication is difficult at best.  Instead, shoot for control using these methods:
 
  • Pull out the entire plant, including roots.  When the soil is moist, small plants can be pulled easily by hand.  Winter and spring are good seasons to do this in California.
  • Larger plants must be removed with a tool such as a Weed Wrench™.  Be sure to remove the entire plant.  Broken stems   re-sprout and are much harder to remove for the next person. 
  • Well planned prescribed burns in fall can further reduce the broom in infested grasslands.  Some plants are consumed outright, and others are scalded around the root collar, later dying from the injury.

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Click on the links below for more information on Scotch Broom:

Scotch broom, English broom, and common broom.pdf

http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/InOrder/Shop/ItemDetails.asp?ItemNo=3488

http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/scotchbroom.shtml#.UQxLhB1EGJs

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=cysc4

http://na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/scotch-broom.pdf

http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/management/ipcw/pages/detailreport.cfm@usernumber=39&surveynumber=182.php

http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/controlling-scotch-broom/index.html

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74147.html

http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/ipc/weedinfo/brooms.htm