French broom, a treacherous and invasive beauty

French Broom being pulled out to control this invasive plant out of its native range.

Horticulturists love its yellow blooming, but French broom (Genista monspessulana) is actually invasive in many countries. It’s a dangerous fire hazard, too! Here where this shrub is native to or invasive in, so you know whether to plant it or not.

Native and invasive ranges of French broom

Native to – Southern Europe, Northern Africa

Invasive in – Australia, New Zealand, Portugal (but only the Azores islands), South America, United States, United Kingdom

Where does French broom come from?

Well, obviously France is one of the sources, but it isn’t the only one. Actually, much of Europe is what Genista monspessulana calls home. Here is a map showing, in green, the areas where French broom is native to.

In other places, it’s likely to be invasive. Since it’s a prolific seeder, quite hardy, and resists drought, it’s likely to spread almost everywhere very fast.

Map of the world showing the native range of French broom in green, around the Mediterrannean

Current spread of French broom

In Europe

French broom is reported as an invasive plant in the British Isles and even in Portugal. This is because it’s competing with other native species of broom.

  • In the United Kingdom, it crowds Scotch broom out.
  • In Portugal, it’s specifically invasive in the Azores islands, off the coast of Africa. On the mainland, there aren’t any problems.

In the United States

The University of Georgia specifically tracks sightings of French broom across the country. All reports are gathered and plotted in the map below. You can zoom in down to county level and see whether French broom appears in your area or not.

For now, it has only been reported along the West Coast.

  • If you notice French broom in the wild, do take a few minutes to report it here. This will help local wildlife protection groups to focus their efforts on getting rid of this invasive shrub in the USA.

French Broom in Canada

Genista monspessulana has the common name “genêt à balais” in French. There are already reports of it throughout the southern-western portion of Canada.

While relations among French and Canadians best be well nurtured, against French broom there’s no need to show restraint!

Regulations regarding French Broom

States and counties maintain lists of weeds and noxious plants that stifle local plants out. French broom already appears on several of these. Here are US states that have French broom on their “watch list”.

If you notice neighbors or even garden stores offering French broom in your area, it’s a good idea to warn them (kindly!) of the risks related to the plant.

Alternatives to French broom

There are a few great shrubs you can plant that are equally beautiful and have the advantage of being native to the North American continent.

Smart tip about invasive French Broom

Aware of any local efforts to control French Broom? Do join it, they’re often fun. There are many passionate people to meet there, as well!

Sources (maps)

GSID, as of November 28th, 2020

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-SA 3.0: Smurfy