Tree Killers: Scotch Broom

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  • Common English name: Scotch Broom
  • Other names: common broom
  • Latin (scientific) name: Cytisus scoparius

Threat type

150x150 plants

History in Canada

  • introduced from Europe in the mid 1800’s as an ornamental shrub and still available from some nurseries
  • occurs in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia


  • a small- to medium-sized shrub (three metres or 10 ft tall) that belongs to the Pea family
  • like many other species in the Pea family, it has nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its roots enabling the plant to grow vigorously in poor soil
  • has bright green stems that allow the plant to photosynthesize early and late in the season
  • produces masses of bright yellow flowers in early summer
  • large quantities of long-lived seeds (up to 80 years) are produced each year
  • mature seedpods often snap open, propelling the seeds several metres from the plant
  • the large seeds float and readily spread down waterways
  • stumps can re-sprout if cut
  • prefers open areas with well-drained soil and lots of light

Impact on Trees

  • may grow in dense stands in open woodland, forest openings, or clearcuts that suppress native tree seedlings due to shade

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • cutting stems followed by removal of all roots
  • herbicide application to the entire shrub
  • several years of control may be needed since the long-lived seeds are unaffected by the above methods and seedlings can recolonize an area
  • biological control is being studied

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