Kenwood Press

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News: 04/15/2017

Take out the broom – now!

bushes around street sign
Photo by Alec Peters
French broom along Lawndale Road, April 11.

French broom dots many areas in Sonoma County, including Lawndale Road in Kenwood. French broom (Genista monspessulana) was brought to California in the mid- to late-1800s from the Mediterranean area of Europe as an easy-to-grow ornamental plant. It soon escaped the confines of personal gardens and is now one of the most damaging invasive plant species in the state.

French broom out-competes native plants and displaces them, and can dominate native flora with its thick stands that can get up to 12 feet high. This impacts the biodiversity of an area.

A member of the pea family, French broom can alter the soil make-up by increasing the level of nitrogen in the ground, which encourages other non-native weeds to be introduced.

How could it be worse? Well, the thick-trunked broom can become tinder-dry and woody, just right to provide fuel for fires. Also, when it blooms in the summer, it releases hundreds of seeds that can germinate over decades.

How do you get rid of French broom? It’s hard to get rid of it entirely because it reseeds so easily, but the most effective eradication method is to use your hands, especially now while the soil is moist.

To find out more about French broom and ways to eradicate it, go to the California Invasive Council website at

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