Scotch in Bloom

When spring hits, it flares up like summer wildfires,  bursting into full-yellow bloom on roadsides and hillsides. Its smelly, dense pollen gets blamed for seasonal rhinitis and can make highway travel a temporary nightmare. It’s so prevalent in Western Washington that it’s not on the WSDOT’s weed hit list.

Greetings from Scotch Broom.

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Scotch Broom in its typical habitat

Scotch Broom (also called Scot’s Broom) is actually an invasive species that originated in Europe. Now prevalent across North America, it was prized as an ornamental shrub and soil stabilizer, and sold in California as early as the 1860s. Captain Walter Grant introduced it to Vancouver Island in 1850. Fifty years later, it was naturalized.

It is a hardy plant that can tolerate many types of soils and can grow almost year-round. Its seeds are durable and long-lasting. It threatens almost all types of environments, from grasslands to dry riverbeds to cultivated farmland.

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Scotch Broom growing in the Pacific Northwest

Since the 1980s, aggressive measures have been taken to control and eliminate Scotch Broom, including the introduction of Scotch Broom-eating insects.

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