Eastern Forest Threat Center - Scotch Broom

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Scotch broom flowers and seed pod

Scotch broom flowers and seed pod

Eric Coombs, Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

Scotch Broom
Cytisus scoparius

Scotch broom is native to the British Isles as well as central and southern Europe. It was introduced into the U.S. during the 1800s as an ornamental.

Keywords: Fabaceae, perennial, shrub, yellow pea-like flowers, fuzzy seed pod; Common names: English broom, broomtops, common broom, European broom, Irish broom

Distribution Map Distribution Source Image

Threat Description

Scotch broom is a perennial shrub growing 3-12 ft. in height. Leaves are compound and alternate with 3 leaflets that are ½-1 in. long, egg-shaped, dark green above, and pale and hairy below. Bright yellow pea-like flowers bloom from March to June. Flat pods, 1-1½ long, contain 5-8 bean-like seeds that are dark brown to black with fuzzy edges. Shrubs can produce up to 60 pods by their second year; seeds can remain viable for 60 years. Scotch broom also reproduces from resprouting of the root crown. Its aggressive root system consists of a taproot that may exceed 2 ft. in length, with large shallow lateral roots. Scotch broom can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but thrives best in full sun on dry, sandy soils with a pH of 4.5-7.5. It grows in open forests, roadsides, grasslands, pastures, cultivated fields, dry scrubland, wasteland, dry meadows, and dry riverbeds and other waterways. It invades rapidly following logging, land clearing, and burning. It can grow 3 ft. in the first year and forms dense impenetrable stands that degrade rangeland, prevent forest regeneration, create fire hazards, crowd out native species, and destroy wildlife habitat.