May 23, 2014

Yellowest Street in the World

From Keltie Craig:

I’ve been enjoying your greenest streets in the world competition on PriceTags. On a recent bike tour to Galiano Island, we came across perhaps the “yellowest” street in the world – a private road that is slowly being swallowed up by the beautiful (but invasive) yellow broom. We had to keep our mouths closed to avoid swallowing the many bees that were happily buzzing in all the flowers!

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broom path - galiano

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    1. In defense of “officialdom” (whatever that is) there are good reasons to want to get rid of scotch broom. The yellow flowers are indeed pretty for a month every spring, but the plant itself is rather ugly. It is aggressively invasive – moving into any area where there is sun exposure then completely displacing native species, even pushing into the edge of the forest. It alters the soil chemistry to prevent native plants from growing near it, and therefore retards forest regrowth after clearing or fire. It provides very little habitat for other species, and displaces important food and habitat species for numerous beneficial invertebrates, birds, and mammals. It devastates the fragile Garry Oak ecosystems on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, threatens native and beneficial salal, Oregon grape, arbutus, and other species. Nothing will eat it (as it contains irritant oils that burn soft tissues) and has massive seed output, making it hard to control or contain. It is also extremely flammable when dead and dried out (most bushes have up to 50% standing dead branches) and even when green, as their oily sap burns like diesel, making wildfires much harder to control.

      It may be pretty, but no more pretty than the dozens of native species that it displaces. All broom should, indeed die.

  1. Very interesting indeed! It’s not yet a street. An extension of Bodega Beach Drive to Dionisio Point Provincial Park, it was built circa 1995 as part of a subdivision that had preliminary approval, but never received final approval – thanks to a BC Appeals Court ruling. So it disturbed a lot o’ land, making it ideal for Scots Broom to take hold, and it’s not been maintained.