Thoughts on Scot's Broom by Sam Devereaux, Independent Volunteer

Like so many others, I have such an appreciation for Mount Pisgah and Buford Park. The hours I spend there are usually the best of my day. I just want to share some thoughts about Scot’s Broom with other park enthusiasts and maybe spark inspiration. First, I’ll qualify the fact that everything I share comes from personal experience and I have no expertise other than that, so any counter observations are of course welcome.

Now, let’s start with the positives of Scot’s Broom: in my opinion there are all but none. It was initially brought in to help with dune stabilization on the coast in the early 1900’s and from there it’s aggressive nature has allowed it to spread far and wide to the point that it is virtually ubiquitous. I guess one should enjoy the blossoms as they are in fact beautiful, my favorite being the ones with some red in them.

It is their spreading that I really want to discuss. A mature plant generates thousands of seeds annually and I’ve been told by people I consider knowledgeable that the seeds remain viable for twenty or more years. That is why it is important, in my opinion, for hikers to pitch in to help keep it from spreading in the park.

I live on the North Coast of Oregon and have dealt with Scot’s Broom abatement on a road that goes through a piece of forest land that I have had there for decades. The Department of Forestry in the late 1970s logged several hundred acres above my property resulting in Scot’s Broom establishing itself, most likely being introduced on vehicular tires. Their multiple spray efforts resulted in indifferent results. In their defense, they are dealing with a tremendous amounts of acreage but their methods don’t work all that well. The best results I’ve experienced come from pulling individual plants out of the ground. It is a cumbersome method but positive in that those plants don’t recover to go on generating more seeds moving forward. The Department of Forestry has sprayed many times and, as I have said, with very indifferent results. I’m not a huge fan of sprays in general so I took it upon myself to help with the Scot’s Broom containment so that the Department of Forestry wouldn’t have to continue to spray there.

As the trees grew the Scot’s Broom was shaded out except for on the road. The road system starts at the county road and goes through my property with a couple of miles that dead ends. So, I was able to somewhat control the situation.

By walking the roads, I have been able to keep it from generating more seeds. If I see the telltale signs of yellow blossoms, I pull the plant. If it is too large, I either hack it down or mow it, thus stymieing future seed production. I’ve been doing this every year and I have noticed that there are very few plants, including pretty much none on my (now my son’s and his family) property.

But still, every year I walk the roads and pull a minimum of 500 little starts. And yikes! Where did that healthy young bush come from???

This gets me to my point. It is so much easier to pull the little ones than the big ones. When you train your eye, the juvenile plants are easy to see and that is the ideal time to pull them – maximum results for minimum effort. The best time for pulling is when the ground is soft from rain. I don’t even bother in the dry months as it is likely they will just snap off and regrow over time. But spring and summer are a good time to spot these rascals and note their locations.

-Sam Devereaux


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