Quick to sprout and grow into attractive, yellow-blooming shrubs after wildfires, broom in turn greatly increases future wildfire danger. Plants are highly flammable. Young shrubs quickly grow into thick, tall, woody thickets that can reach high into the forest canopy. With broom in the understory, even wildfires that start low to the ground can soon “burn high” and consume the entire landscape.
Worse yet, broom plants are prolific seed producers. By some estimates a single plant can produce 3,500 seed pods and disperse 20,000 seeds—each of those seeds remaining viable (able to sprout into a new plant) for a very long time.
Because it “outcompetes” native vegetation, broom is an ecosystem hazard. It effectively removes the plants that birds and other wild animals rely on for both food and shelter.
Now well-established as a noxious weed throughout the western and eastern U.S., broom was first imported from Europe and North Africa in the mid-1800s. After it escaped cultivation, it was also intentionally planted in the wild for erosion control.
How the Fire Safe Council Can Help Member Weed Wrench Lending Program
The best way to “doom the broom” is to pull it up, root and all, which is easy when plants are young. Older plants with deep taproots can be leveraged up and out of the ground with the help of a “weed wrench” (see photo below), a very useful tool but pricey.
As one of its community fire safety programs, the Butte County Fire Safe Council lends weed wrenches to members on a first-come basis (and also maintains a waiting list). This weed wrench lending program is free, but a personal check for $100 is requested as a security deposit. When you return the wrench, your original (uncashed) check is returned to you.
Additional Information to Combat Broom
Below are links to additional information that dives a little deeper into the science of broom, and how to eliminate it.
Download the page below to see our ‘Call to Action!’ asking you to help eradicate broom from your community.
Download this page to learn about Forest Ranch’s Broom Education and Eradication Program (BEEP). While this program is not always active, it is valuable information if you’re thinking of starting an eradication program in your own neighborhood!