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Great Lakes Center, SAMC 319
SUNY Buffalo State
1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, NY 14222

wnyprism@buffalostate.edu
(716) 878.4708

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Scotch Broom

COMMON NAME:

Scotch Broom

SCIENTIFIC NAME:

Cytisus scoparius

ORIGIN:

Northern Africa and Europe

DESCRIPTION:

Scotch broom is a shrub that grows up to 10 feet tall and whose green branches are sharply angled with five ridges. Young plants have hairy stems, while mature plants are hairless. Along the stem, small, pea-like, yellow flowers bloom from late May to June. The flowers give way to blackish-brown seed pods with hairs along the seams that explode when mature. Scotch broom leaves are small, alternately arranged, oblong and occur in groups of three.

HABITAT:

Scotch broom tolerates a wide range of conditions, but is most often found in open, disturbed areas including along roadsides, forest edges, river banks and fields.

THREAT:

Scotch broom fixes nitrogen allowing it outcompete native plants in nutrient deficient soils. Scotch broom also forms dense thickets that displace native plants and does not provide good forage for wildlife. Its seeds can survive in the soil for more than 30 years, allowing seed banks to accumulate and making management challenging.

MANAGEMENT:

Small infestations should be controlled manually or mechanically before seed pods mature and will require several years of follow-up given this plant's deep roots and ability to resprout. Larger infestations may be treated with herbicide using cut-stump, foliar or basal bark applications.

WNY PRISM PRIORITY:

Early Detection Priority Species

Tier 2 - Eradication

Invasive Species Priorities - Tier Chart

PATHWAYS OF INVASION:

Scotch broom was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant and for erosion control. It produces numerous seeds which are easily spread by natural activities including flowing water and ants, and can be spread by human disturbance including road work and mowing. Mature seedpods also open explosively launching seeds up to 20 feet away.

REGIONAL DISTRIBUTION:

First reported in the WNY PRISM region in 2019 in Wyoming County (Letchworth State Park).

MAP (via iMapInvasives):

To view more information for each point, zoom in, click on the point and select the "Maximize" symbol. Click "More info" to open the iMapInvasives record.

This map shows confirmed observations (green points) submitted to the NYS Invasive Species Database.
Absence of data does not necessarily mean absence of the species at that site, but that it has not been reported there.
For more information, please visit iMapInvasives.