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Scotch broom. Source: Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board

WA Invasive Species Council looks to get rid of Scotch broom plants

The Washington Invasive Species Council along with other state agencies and researchers have called for a census to be conducted this month to help determine the location of Scotch broom throughout the state.

Scotch broom crowds out native species and negatively impacts wildlife habitat. It can form dense, impenetrable stands that degrade farmland and create fire hazards. It dense stands may prevent or slow forest regeneration and restoration of upland sites and wetland buffers. Scotch broom produces toxic compounds, which in large amounts can cause mild poisoning in animals such as horses.

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office – Invasive Species Council
Scotch broom blooms. Source: Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board
Scotch broom blooms. Source: Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board

The brilliantly yellow-flowered, Scotch broom is hard to miss when blooming. It can be found in 30 of Washington’s 39 counties. While known to be spread across the state, specific locations and patch sizes are not well documented, leading to the council’s call for a month-long census.

“We’re asking people to send us information from their neighborhoods,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “The information from the census will help us set short- and long-term action plans.”

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The sighting information can be sent via the Washington Invasives mobile app (Android / Apple) or by reporting sightings online.

Reports of sightings should include:

  • a photograph of the plant that shows enough detail that the plant can be verified by an expert
  • a description of the size of the patch such (eg the size of a motorcycle, a car, a school bus or multiple school buses) 

While widespread and not likely to be fully eliminated from the entire state, action is being taken to remove Scotch broom from parks, roadsides, forests, riverbanks and other at-risk landscapes. The information from the Scotch broom census will help invasive species managers better understand the needs of landowners and managers. If you are a landowner and report the information, we will provide information and technical assistance to help you safety and effectively manage the problem.

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Washington Invasive Species Council website (April 2020)

People that have Scotch broom or would like to get involved in stopping it can get additional help from an online seminar series June 2-4 being organized by the council and its partners to address this shared problem.

The National Parks Service website lists Scotch broom as an exotic species. “Native to northern Africa and parts of Europe, it was first introduced to North America on the east coast and was later introduced to California as an ornamental. From the 1850s through the early 1900s, Scotch broom was frequently planted in gardens. Later, it was used for erosion control along highway cuts and fills.”

2 Comments

  1. Julie A Aamot Julie A Aamot May 1, 2020

    Scotch Broom is extremely flammable! It has a high oil content and can go up in minutes. It is one of the plants that cause respiratory problems for many of us when it blooms.

  2. Barb Kehl Barb Kehl May 3, 2020

    Scotch Broom was planted in the center between the lanes on I-5. Eventually, they figured out it was out of control and took it out. You might find missed plants near I-5.

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