Worse than Scottish Broom: an invasive species in Oak Bay

Watch A group of volunteers are setting their sights on pulling a plant they say we should all be worried about. They say Gorse is tough to get rid of and more likely to come back than Scottish Broom.

Volunteers in Oak Bay spent the sunny day pulling weeds from the rocks on Anderson Hill.

They normally target invasive Scottish Broom, but today they’re tackling something even more difficult plant —Gorse.

“We’re cutting back the gorse so that we don’t have any more Gorse seeds,” said volunteer coordinator Christina Johnson-Dean, “If we can get it out by the roots, we will but it’s very difficult.”

Gorse an invasive plant from the Mediterranean according to Margaret Lidkea, president of Friends of Uplands Park.

“It probably came in with the seeds that were brought in for the soldiers at Fort Victoria because they needed to grow vegetables for themselves and also grain for the cattle that they had brought over form Europe that landed in Cattle Point.”

With no competition, the foreign plant takes over ecosystems and suffocates native plants. Gorse is even more difficult to deal with than Scottish Broom.

“Gorse is also a hazard for people walking anywhere, or for dogs,” Lidkea told CHEK news, “It has so many prickles.”

Worse than the pricks, is the potential fire risk.

“If the Gorse dries out it can become very, very flammable and again present hazards to the local houses and here, so we need to get it out,” said Lidkea.

The weeding team has been clearing invasive plants for decades in Oak Bay, and say Gorse is one of their toughest targets.

Volunteer Karin Sweeney has been coming back for years, trying to eradicate the annoying greenery.

“We’re hoping to cut it back at least so we get the yellow blooms so it doesn’t spread in the Spring,” said Sweeney, “I’ve done it a few years and it comes back, so you kind of have to keep working on it.”

And even though it may feel like a never-ending battle, there are plenty of reasons these volunteers come back.

“It’s absolutely critical we connect people to this ecosystem to help protect is and keep this natural heritage for future generations,” stated Lidkea.

For Sweeney, it is all about getting connecting to the neighborhood.

“It’s very important for people to be involved in their local environment and do what they can and you get to meet people in the community, and it’s satisfying.”

All of the weeds collected today will be picked up by the municipality, and taken to a special composting facility designed to ensure the invasive seeds do not spread.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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