Two words that send shivers down the spine of anyone who has lived on Vancouver Island.
However, in the Lower Mainland, the shrub that was imported in 1850 by Capt. Walter Grant is relatively unknown, as are its damaging effects — especially when it flowers in the spring.
Now, a Coquitlam chapter of Broombusters is trying to tackle the plant at parks to help rid the city of the invasive species that can produce 18,000 seeds and stay in the soil for up to 40 years.
Robbin Whachell recently applied for a Neighbourhood Small Grant for funding to start the first Vancouver-area chapter, and purchase tools and supplies to cut the broom stems at their base.
Whachell first learned about broom while hiking the Coquitlam Crunch last August. During the heat dome, she heard a popping sound, which she found out were coming from exploding broom pods.
“I was seeing more of this plant everywhere I went,” she explained to the Tri-City News.
Through her research, she found Broombusters, a non-profit society founded by Joanne Sales of Vancouver Island and now has several chapters dedicated to containing the invasive weed.
Whachell also found out about the plant’s impact on people, animals and Mother Earth.
According to Broombusters’ website, the invasive plant not only spreads rapidly and densely in open, sunny areas, it’s also highly flammable, crowds out native plants, takes over farms and is toxic to wildlife.
And, if you have hay fever, Scotch broom flares up spring allergies when it blooms.
“Qualicum Beach roads used to be crowded with Scotch broom,” Sales told the Tri-City News.
“In 2006, a few volunteers offered to cut the aggressive alien plant if the city would remove what they cut. That partnership between government and volunteers became Broombusters’ model that spread to over 10 municipalities and districts on Vancouver Island and Powell River.”
Last spring, she said more than 600 Broombuster volunteers cut for more than 7,000 hours.
With “Cut Broom in Bloom” as its slogan, Broombusters will be out over the next few weeks, including on Friday (April 22) for Earth Day at Coquitlam's Glen Park (1149 Westwood St.).
The work party is from 9 to 11 a.m. and participants are asked to meet in the parking lot off Westwood Street, north of the park.
Interested participants are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing, and bring water, snacks and gardening gloves. Tools will be supplied; however, you can also bring your own large shears.
To volunteer, visit the Coquitlam chapter’s Facebook event page to register.
Meanwhile, two more family-friendly events are planned for next month, while the broom’s yellow flowers are out for the spring:
- Saturday, May 7 at Coquitlam Crunch
- Sunday, May 15 at Mundy Park east
For more details, go to broombusters.org/coquitlam or facebook.com/broombusterscoquitlam. To get updates on Coquitlam’s Broombuster cutting events, subscribe via https://tinyletter.com/BroomBustersCoquitlam.