French Broom. Photo Credit: John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Bugwood.org
Scotch broom infestation.
Scotch Broom. Photo Credit: Martin LaBar, Flickr
Scotch broom seedpod. Photo Credit: Martin LaBar, Flickr
French broom. Photo Credit: Jill Motts, Flickr
Gorse flowers. Photo Credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org
- Scotch Broom (Cytisus scorparius) also called Scot’s, English, European or common broom
- Portuguese broom (Cytisus striatus) also called striated broom
- Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) also called weaver’s broom
- French broom (Genista monspessulana) also called canary broom
- Gorse (Ulex europaeus) also called European gorse
Broom species and gorse are often classified together because of the similar appearance and impact on landscapes. These tall, perennial species were originally introduced to our region as ornamentals, but quickly escaped into natural areas. Growing in dense stands, these species displace native and desirable plants and pose a significant fire hazard.
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||Up to 10 feet (3 meters)|
|Leaf Description:||Each species has woody, green stems and dark green leaves that look like brooms.|
|Fruit & Flower Description:||Each species has bright yellow, pealike flowers that produce tiny seed pods after they have bloomed, typically June to July. These species’ produce thousands of seeds each year that can remain viable in soil for up to 30 years.|
|Bloom Time:||April to June|
- Brooms and gorse can be found in open areas that have recently been disturbed including, grasslands, pastures, roadsides, and recently harvested woodlands.
- They all grow best in sunny areas with well-drained soils.
- Broom species and gorse not only look similar, but they have similar impacts on the watershed. They grow in dense stands that easily outcompete native vegetation for space and nutrients. This results in the loss of grasslands and prevents reforestation by crowding out conifer seedlings.
- Scotch broom seeds are also toxic to some livestock.
- These species pose a serious fire hazard to landscapes. Dense stands create ladder fuelsFuels can include anything from living and dead trees, shrubs, grassy fields, and human-built structures. that allow wildfire to spread into tree canopy layers. Gorse produces highly flammable oils in its stems which pose an extreme fire hazard.
What you can do about it:
- Manual treatment, such as hand pulling or digging up the plant, are options for small infestations. The best time for this is in the spring when the ground is damp.
- Treatment must be repeated for many years because these species produce thousands of long-lived seeds and are able to re-sprout from small stems, stumps, or root crowns.
- Weed wrenches can assist with removing brooms and gorse. If you are in Washington County, we lend these tools for free from our tool library.
Brooms and gorse have similar characteristics, but there are slight differences that distinguish each species. Visit the resources below to explore these differences.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:||Class B|
|State of Washington:||Class B|
- Oregon Department of Agriculture: Scotch broom
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board: Scotch broom
- University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: Scotch broom
- Oregon Department of Agriculture: Portuguese broom
- Oregon Department of Agriculture: Spanish broom
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board: Spanish broom
- University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: Spanish broom
- Oregon Department of Agriculture: French broom
- Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board: French broom
- University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: French broom