Saturday, June 4, 2011

Scotch Broom

Click any photo to enlarge

Red Broom with yellow in background
You know how I go on about those “newcomers”. How they wiggle their way in and take over. How they displace the natives.  How they become an invasive species. But dang, some of them can be so darn beautiful. Some can be real heart-breakers. You know, like Scotch Broom.

 I made a trip to Whitethorn today, that’s a place that used to be called just plain “Thorn” before it was renamed. But that’s another story, for another day. Today I couldn’t help but notice the great abundance of abundantly flowering Scotch Broom. The broom in Whitethorn blooms in a wide variety of shades of yellow and red. Some can be so pale yellow that they are almost white, then others can be almost completely red. The rain this spring has made for a great blossom year, so the various shades are most noticeable.

My Great Grandmother Laura Middleton used to live at Usal and Rockport. Her husband, my great Grandfather, Lafayette Middleton ran a redwood slit-stuff camp. After he died, Laura moved to Laytonville to be next to my Grandmother Ruby Branscomb, (her Daughter) she brought most of her yard plants with her.

The most memorable yard plants, to me, was some Opium Poppies. Grandma Middleton told me that the Chinese road workers had brought them from China. I’m not sure where they are actually from, probably not China, but they were very beautiful red poppies. She said the Chinese road workers would cut them, bleed the sap, dry it and smoke it. She grew the poppies because they were beautiful.

Some other things that she brought with her were some Lilac Bushes that she kept beautifully trimmed and neat. Plants were hard to come by back in the early 1900’s they weren’t any nurseries around. You had to get plant starts from your neighbors, or get things from other local people like Albert Etter. Grandma Ruby always called her strawberries “Etters Strawberries”. She was quite proud of them. They were very sweet strawberries, not like the ones that you buy today that need sugar.

The other memorable plant that my Great Grandma had was a Scotch Broom. It’s kind of funny, today the scotch broom is a noxious weed, But to my Grandma Laura they were one of the most precious and beautiful plants in her yard. She always kept it neatly trimmed and clean around the base. She told me that it was from Europe, and very hard to come by, fortunately they grew well here, and they were quite easy to propagate. Apparently, the early European settlers brought some of their plants and animals with them to keep them from missing their homes so badly. I think that probably bringing the plants was one of the few ways that the early men could get their wives to come with them. Today, they pay people to weed Scotch Broom out, because they have a tendency to choke out evergreen trees that are used for lumber. The Scotch Broom costs the forest industry millions of dollars.

Sorry, but this invasive plant  is one that I find to be very pretty, and I hope that they never learn how to get rid of it. The other invasive plant that I hope they never figure out how to get rid of is the Himalaya Blackberry. Yum!

The following is Scotch Broom:


18 comments:

Dave Stancliff said...

Scotch Broom is blooming big time on Central Avenue in Mack Town across from the airport.

It goes on for a couple of miles - a solid yellow wall.

Personally, I like the color contrast against the green. It perks things up a bit.

Anonymous said...

It has been introduced into several other continents outside its native range and is classified as a noxious invasive species in California and the Pacific Northwest in North America,[8] Australia, New Zealand and India. It commonly grows in disturbed areas along utility and transportation right-of-ways. The prolific growth of this species after timber harvest inhibits reforestation by competing with seedling trees.[12] It is estimated that in Oregon it is responsible for US$47 million in lost timber production each year in that state.[13] Some attempts have been made to develop biological controls in affected areas, using three broom-feeding insects, the psyllid Arytainilla spartiophylla, the beetle Bruchidius villosus, and the moth Leucoptera spartifoliella.


My mother and I driving down from Portland this week saw huge patches of Scotch bROOM in new cutblocks. My mother kept really commentiing on it.

ekovox said...

That was from me.

Joe Park said...

Hi Ernie, Joe Park here from the Dark old days in Branscomb with Redwood Trees, I tried an earlier comment but dont think I did it right, you might remember me from the Branscom Store

Joe ktnjoepark@aol.com

Ben said...

My place has... Scotch Broom (lots), English Ivy which is a BIG problem, acres of Himalayan Blackberry and the pretty but invasive Periwinkle or Vinca. On the back of the house is a wild grape vine. I have to attack it every year or it will tear the place apart. I have a friend who cut a huge, 6 or 7 inch grapevine on an oak in her back yard. Next windstorm and the oak fell on her house. The grapevine was holding it up.
The doggone Lemon Balm has gone wild. Buddlea or Butterfly Bush is considered invasive and I have some of that too. I remember a little old lady living in a house down by Ten Mile River and the house was completely covered in blackberries... I have a feeling the same thing could happen to me...

Robin Shelley said...

Don't forget Pampas Grass in the list of beautiful noxious weeds! But I'm with you, Ernie - I love the looks of Scotch broom.

Robin Shelley said...

Hi, Joe! Welcome.

Granpappy Amos said...

Am I the only one old enough to remember that there was a blackberry species here before the Himalayan that didn't have thorns?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yes Joe, I remember you. Anybody that’s been to the Branscomb Store more than three times would remember you. Welcome to our world here on the blogs.

Amos, yes I remember the native blackberry, and another bush called “Black Caps”. You can still find them, but most people would recognize them anymore.

The hillsides aren’t the only place that have changed. Anybody that swam in the South Fork of the Eel before 1955 wouldn't even recognize the fish or the plants in the river today.

Joe Park said...

Not sure but I think the Blackcaps were actually Rasberries, but they were black. we had them all over in Branscomb back in the 40s, also Hucklberries, but the most fun was walking across the So.Fork of the Eel River on the backs of the Salmon when they were coming up to spawn. I guess I am stretching it a little but there were lots of them.

Joe

spyrock said...

spent memorial day up your way, too late to make the bbq in redway.
spent the afternoon in cloverdale being healed by a medicine man friend of my cousin karen. he kept bleching out the garbage he encountered inside me. he thought i was an okie. he told me a bullet killed my ancestor in cahto who owned the section of land between cahto and laytonville. i bought a book about the modocs at the mendocino bookstore written by a descendent of shacknasty jim. in the book, it described a clear lake that was east of tule lake on modoc land. not the one in lake county. so i no longer think that modocs killed my ancestor.
our friend in mendocino owns a few acres up the hill east of town right in the middle of some huge redwoods. her old house had burned down the year before and the new house was beautiful. the rhodedendrons were in full bloom and were growing wild in between the huge redwoods. it was a beautiful sight. she took me out to spring ranch to walk the dogs along the cliffs above the ocean. big waves, clouds, seals and fresh clean air. seems like paradise is still alive and well in your neck of the woods. the book is called modocs the tribe that wouldn't die by cheewa james.

Robin Shelley said...

I hope you went into the chocolate shop while in Mendo, Spy.

Robin Shelley said...

Black caps are black raspberries. We had a little bush on our place in Laytonville that didn't get much bigger, spread or produce any more than the first year I found it 20 years before we moved. The new owner has bulldozed & rocked over it. It was in the way of a gate post. Huckleberries seem to be hard to find up here although people claim they exist. I pick two different varieties of wild blackberries here although I don't know what they are. One is bigger than the other but they're both sweet.

Dave Kirby said...

Spy... The Clear Lake you speak of is on the Lost River east of the Lava Beds. It is currently a wildlife refuge.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Link to California Blackbery

Ernie Branscomb said...

Link to California native Blackcap Rasberry

Ekovox said...

Yes...Black Caps. I haven't heard that term in decades. My great Aunts, who were avid berry-pickers, used to call them that.

spyrock said...

thanks, i didn't know there were two clear lakes but i guess they were all clear once upon a time. that being its by the lost river, no wonder i got confused.
the indian did say that my ancestor was a good man. that's for those who don't think there were any good non indian people back then.
i think most people were good on both sides. there's always a few bad apples no matter what era one is talking about.