Bustin’ broom

This time of year the island's highways are dotted with the bright yellow bushes and leathery green stems of Scotch Broom.

The Raincoast Education Society held a Broom Bash on June 10 in an effort to combat the invasive species that has spread its seeds along the West Coast.

The plant puts up stiff competition against other vegetation because it has the ability to fix nitrogen into the soil and doesn't require a fertile environment to thrive.

"That's why it's so successful as an invasive species, because it can create its own nutrients to get going," said Dan Harrison of RES.

The society's concerns are over Scotch Broom's ability to invade local ecosystems.

"If you get an established population of Scotch Broom out here it will start to invade the dune ecosystems. The main concern from [Pacific Rim National Park Reserve] is that it will take over dune ecosystems and push out a lot of the native species," said Harrison.

According to RES, the seeds of Scotch Broom can remain dormant in the soil for decades, and if they are disturbed at any point, the seeds can germinate.

"Even if you pull all the plants out, there's a bank of seeds in the ground," he said.

While eradication methods and theories differ (some advise removing the entire plant and its root system), RES advised its volunteers at the Broom Bash to cut plants at the base if the stem is larger than the diameter of a finger. Smaller ones can be pulled out.

Harrison said it took volunteers about three hours to cut down approximately 300 metres of roadside Scotch Broom last Friday.

According to the Invasive Plant Council of BC, Scotch broom is native to the Mediterranean areas of Europe and is an escaped garden ornamental.

It is commonly found in southwest B.C. and is concentrated at the southern end of Vancouver Island. It has also been reported on the Queen Charlotte Islands as well as in parts of the Kootenays and North Okanagan-Shuswap areas.

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