Scotch Broom, that pretty yellow-flowered bush that grows by the wayside, is beautiful, but potentially deadly and grows virtually unchecked. You know it’s bad when even the deer don’t seem to eat it.
Not only doesn’t it get chewed on, but the plant can become a real fire hazard. Although we’ve had enough rain that it seems virtually impossible that a fire could get going, these burning bushes are fireballs waiting to happen, according to Jen Vogel and Crystal Klym of the Kootenay Invasive Plant Council.
“There are many ways in which the introduction of non-native or exotic species negatively affects our environment and diversity,” said Vogel, who teamed up with Klym to get Nakusp kids aware of the invaders and active in stopping their spread.
“Some of the statistics are startling, compared to other threats to biodiversity, invasive introduced species rank second only to habitat destruction such as forest clearing,” she told The Arrow Lakes News. “The greatest impact is caused by introduced species that change an entire habitat, because many native species thrive only in a particular habitat, such as a plant like Scotch Broom. This escaped garden ornamental invades open areas and has a preference for disturbed soil, such as along roadways and recently logged sites.”
A hard-working invader, the pretty but threatening plant can produce upwards of 3,500 seeds and can eject them up to five meters from the parent plant, said Vogel. Not only that, Scotch Broom just plain gets in the way, covering areas that were once available to native species, and obstructing sight lines on roads. The plant is a real space invader, and even makes it difficult for large animals to move around.
The Nakusp Elementary School has been participating in Scotch Broom Bash events for two years. The first year, the pull was lead by Leslie Leitch’s class and this year more classes were interested in participating, which wasn’t all that surprising. When I caught up with Vogel and Klym, they were arranging hula hoops and different prizes for the kids who were taking part in the Broom Bash. Who knew controlling invasive species could be so much fun?