On killing Scotch Broom

For years now, groups of volunteers have been working to eradicate broom on Gabriola. They hold broom-yanking parties at Drumbeg and other spots, and often seem to use something called an extractagator to pull broom out of the ground.

I happened to be over at a Comox Valley website this morning, and found mention of a different approach there:

Now that the broom is beginning to shows it yellow flowers, it is time to cut it. If broom is cut at ground level while in bloom, the plant will die in the summer’s dry heat – and it will not form more seeds.

Is that right, broom eradication experts?

13 responses

  1. I had understood that the removal technique depends on the time of year. And that yes, when the ground is dry, cutting as close to the earth is right, whereas pulling broom out now can activate dormant seeds in the soil and accelerate more growth. I’d also heard the plant is most stressed when it blooms, so this is the best time of year to finish them off….. (but I’m no longer current on the literature, so defer to the island broom experts.) :)

  2. I’m no expert on broom, but it stands to reason that the plant would put a lot of energy into flowering and the growth leading up to flowering, so it should be at its lowest stored energy level and if you cut it to ground level at that point it would have little left in the way of root reserves to allow it to re-sprout. Lack of water would make it impossible to sprout immediately. And without any above-ground stems or leaves there would be no way for it to feed itself, so by the end of the summer drought, when there might finally be enough water for it to try to sprout, it would have starved to death. Sounds good in theory anyway but I could see how this could work. I imagine even if the plant didn’t die the first time, that doing this again the next year should kill off even a large and robust broom plant with lots of reserves.

  3. So pulling out all the broom on my neighbours property is just encouraging more weed seeds??? I need to cut it down? Is there a time where pulling is okay? I actually kind of enjoy pulling it all out, sort of perverse I know. :)

  4. I know that broom is the plant everyone loves to hate (being introduced, with few if any predators, etc.), but it does have its place here. Most people don’t realize that broom is one of the few nitrogen fixers that grow here. Broom also accumulates calcium in the soil. If there are just a few growing in a small clearing in the woods they are probably doing more good than bad.

    Yes, it does tend to take over *in disturbed areas*, but this is its role in the ecosystem. It disappears as the forest grows back. I know, I know, the forest doesn’t get a chance to grow back once broom gets going. This is more a problem with the deer, that eat everything EXCEPT broom.

    Maybe we should actually do something about our deer problem– or we could introduce a herd of goats to roam Gabriola and eat the broom….

    • Thanks for the broom details, Sal. You know a lot of interesting stuff.

      I’d love to do something about the over-abundance of deer on Gabriola. Getting people to stop feeding deer would be an obvious (if difficult) first step. And putting venison on dinner plates would make sense, too, I think. (Though that is an unpopular thing to say around here, isn’t it? Deer are so cute, after all.)

  5. The rule of thumb we’ve been trained to use is if the broom stem at ground level is thicker in diameter than your pinkie finger; cut it with lopers or a hand saw. If smaller, pull it out. Eradicating broom is best done any time of year you have the energy!! Our sheep will eat broom tops that we bring in from other areas we’re broom bashing in the winter during periods of snow as emergency ‘greens’ but won’t touch it unless they are desperate.

  6. Thanks, Sal for the helpful comment. I’d also read about broom’s benefits – ie- nitrogen, as an accumulator, etc – and wondered about the “balance” here on Gabriola. But since the deer are here, I guess that means needing to continue to wage the Broom Wars.?

  7. Thanks Weedpatch for the guidelines. I will continue with my 3x yearly broom pull, it’s quite satisfying knowing that I’ve stopped a few hundred from reseeding every year.

    mmmmm, love venison (yes, very unpopular to say here, oh well *sigh*)

  8. Thanks for the links, I can see that my technique of pulling the seedlings by the roots is approved for removal by Broom busters.

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