Scientific name: Cytisus scoparius

What Is It?

Scotch broom is an upright shrub in the pea family, with yellow flowers. It grows primarily in open, dry meadows and along roads. Scotch broom crowds out native species and negatively impacts wildlife habitat. It is native to Europe.

Is It Here Yet?

Yes, Scotch broom has been documented in many parts of Washington.

Why Should I Care?

Scotch broom crowds out native species and negatively impacts wildlife habitat. It can form dense, impenetrable stands that degrade farmland and create fire hazards. The dense stands may prevent or slow forest regeneration and restoration of upland sites and wetland buffers. Scotch broom produces toxic compounds, which in large amounts can cause mild poisoning in animals such as horses.

How Can We Stop It?

To prevent spread, wash vehicles, boots, and animals that may have been in infested areas. Remove Scotch broom from your property where feasible. Scotch broom is on Washington’s Terrestrial Noxious Weed Seed and Plant Quarantine list, meaning it is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or distribute Scotch broom plants, plant parts, or seeds. Scotch broom is listed as a Class B noxious weed in Washington, meaning it is designated for control in certain state regions.

Visit out “Play, Clean, Go” and “Don’t Pack a Pest” to learn more about how to prevent the spread of invasive species.

What Are Its Characteristics?

  • Scotch broom is an upright perennial shrub, which grows 3-12 feet tall, with slender sharply angled greenish brown branches.
  • It has compound leaves with three, egg-shaped leaflets 1/2-1 inch long, which are dark green above and pale and hairy below.
  • The plant produces bright yellow 1-inch-long flowers from March to June, and flat pods, which contain five to eight bean-like seeds.

How Do I Distinguish It From Native Species?

Scotch broom may be confused with Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), a Class A noxious weed, or gorse (Ulex europaeus), a Class B noxious weed.