This is also true with Desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides). Even though most people consider it a weed, there are others who think of it as a plant to be grown in a landscape. I knew a homeowner who added irrigation to their desert broom to help it grow. And, placed river rock around it to keep the landscapers from cutting it down. She loved her desert broom plant.
Look in many desert landscape books and you’ll find Desert broom listed as a plant. And, why not? It grows without water and is almost impossible to kill. One plant book even says that it “revels in the heat!” But, just because a plant grows in the desert doesn’t make it a good plant for the landscape or the environment.
Desert broom takes root and grows EXTREMELY well in areas where the soil has been disturbed. This happens a lot in construction areas. And, construction often happens in new developments near native desert areas. This means that there is a lot of desert broom growing in construction sites near our desert. And, desert broom grows much better and faster than native desert plants and trees. When you have a lot of desert broom, you have a lot less desert vegetation. This is a problem. Not just for plants but for animals that live in the desert too and depend on desert plants for resources.
Another big problem of desert broom is how it pollinates and spreads. The female plant produces white cottony fruits that blow in the wind in the Fall finding a place in the soil to wait for rain and germination. The white fluffy fruit causes many people misery because they are allergic to it. So, if you’re sneezing in the Fall, it may be due to Desert broom.
And, if you’ve ever tried to remove desert broom, you know the difficulty of pulling it out. Even a small desert broom has long tough roots. You might pull your back out before actually successfully yanking one out. For larger desert broom plants, the best way to remove them is to cut them down. Let them start regrowing and then spray them with a weed killer. Many native Tucsonans have their own rituals and concoctions for removing them. Some work and some don’t.
The best thing to do is to remove desert broom when it’s very small. Once it takes hold and grows, it becomes an ongoing struggle between you and the plant. And, sometimes the desert broom plant wins.
Would you like more information about desert broom? Check out the Desert Awareness Committee’s information about desert broom at http://www.azfcf.org/docs/DAC/Savvy-Broom.Byrne.pdf. If you enjoyed our blog post, Like our Facebook Fan Page.