Scotch Broom originates from Europe. It was brought to North America as an ornamental garden plant in the 1800s. It also had other uses, including: a coffee alternative, medicinal uses, and a source of yellow dye. Since then it has managed to escape from many gardens and is a common invader on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. In PEI there have been a few sightings of Scotch Broom along roadsides and in ditches. However, most are contained in gardens.
Here are some distinguishing features that may help to positively identify Scotch Broom:
Yellow, pea-like flowers
Leaves near base have 3 leaflets
All other leaves are simple
Woody, angled stem with grooves
Seed pods look like hairy, flat, pea pods
Seed pods turn from green to dark brown/black
What it does in the ecosystem
Scotch Broom grows in open areas, in ditches, meadows and yards. It competes with native species for available light, nutrients and moisture and has no natural enemies on PEI. It has a deep and extensive root system so it is very difficult to eradicate once it becomes established. Fortunately, Scotch broom is not yet widespread on PEI so we still have a chance to eradicate it or prevent further spread.