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Posts Tagged ‘Scotch broom’

Although quite wild in appearance, if you look closely at the “native” vegetation here along the Southern Oregon coast you’ll be reading a graphic tale of human impact on our coastal ecosystem. From the steep beach foredunes, to neighborhood yards and beyond, highly invasive introduced species have come to symbolize our local plant life.

Beach Grass © AME

Beach Grass
© AME

At the shoreline, European beach grass forms stunningly beautiful waves of green directly at the beach’s edge. But beach grass, a deeply rhizomed dune stabilizer, intentionally planted in the 30s to foster more agricultural land inland, has ended up forming the steep foredunes which have come to characterize the Southern Oregon coast today.

Armenian Blackberry © SRE

Blackberry Amid the Gorse
© SRE

Tangles of Armenian (Himalayan) blackberry first noted in Oregon in 1922 line our roads and cover our hillsides and are considered by the state to be the most noxious and invasive weed in Western Oregon. There is no approved biological agent to control it. In our yard, we cut it back or periodically “weed it out” by hand but it quickly returns from its nightmarishly long and tenacious roots.

Then there is Scotch broom, beautiful but invasive, which was introduced as a garden ornamental by early European settlers to the Pacific Coast. What to do? Dig it up, cut it back. Watch for its recurrence. Repeat.

Perhaps at the top of the most noxious list is broom’s cousin gorse, a spiny yellow-flowered shrub which forms almost impenetrable barriers up to 15 feet high. This weed is particularly noteworthy around nearby Bandon, and is said to have been introduced by founder Lord George Bennett who brought it over from the old country Eire. Not only did he gift the town gorse, he also named Bandon after his home town in County Cork. You can read more about gorse’s historical impact on Bandon here: http://www.offbeatoregon.com/H1011d-bandon-founder-favorite-plant-destroyed-his-town.html.

Gorse© SRE

Scotch Broom © SRE

Of course these hardy species greatly outcompete indigenous flora, many of which have become extremely rare. And getting rid of the pesky invaders has proved extremely difficult, labor intensive and costly.

In fact so costly that just this week the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission has begun to consider a proposal to trade land in the Bandon State Natural Area to a golf development company, Bandon Biota, in exchange for $300,000 for gorse removal in nearby parks as well as money to purchase other land for future park development. A proposal worth keeping tabs on.

For more info on the State Parks proposal for Bandon State Natural Area see: http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2013/07/oregon_state_parks_shifts_meet.html

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