When I first traveled to the Pacific Northwest, it was spring. Scotch Broom lit the hills afire with it’s weedy, yellow blossoms. I loved it. My local guides, however, maligned this brilliant, rugged shrub. In 1850, Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant planted the first Scotch Broom this continent had ever seen. It was Vancouver Island, considerably north of my humble home, and only three of his seeds managed to survive that first season. A mere 260 years later, Scotch Broom has managed to take root from the coast Eastward to Montana, including much of my beloved Oregon, and southward through Southern California. It’s also managed to gain a foothold across the Central Atlantic Seaboard and in other countries, like India, Australia, and New Zealand.
Traditionally, Scotch Broom was a symbol of Courage. It was worn into battle by leaders like Geoffrey of Anjou and as a crest by royal families like the British Plantagenets. As a symbol of the capacity to thrive, it was worn or carried by people of all classes. It’s ability to strongly root and survive are born out by Scotch Broom’s capacity to spread and hold the territory it’s claimed, my Oregon home being a part of that.
For me personally, Scotch Broom is a tenacious friend who reminds me I can bring sunshine and healing into this place, even though my ancestors weren’t exactly born here. Scotch Broom has helped check erosion, particularly where native species have been eradicated through forces either manmade or of Mother Nature’s device. It’s deep root systems are particularly hard to dig out, making it perfect for holding the soil in place but also good at holding its ground.
Living in North America as a descendent of European stock sometimes feels like, well, a Scotch Broom must feel as the local naturalists stroll by thinking and mumbling curses at her place here. When I listen to the plants and wild animals of this place, I hear without doubt that they’re glad I’m here, even if they’re not always happy with the choices or action of my brethren (including many of the folk who come from more native stock). Scotch Broom reminds me I can help to make a difference among my own people, of all colors and descents, by digging in and holding the ground we herbalists have already gained. That directive overwhelms me sometimes…often.
So, I worked with my honey, Patrick, to create a small print to remind me to be tenacious, courageous, and above all to do all I can to make the world a better place for all my kin, human or otherwise. It hangs in my bathroom, where I’ll see it everyday and because coastal Scotch Broom was the first to call me to action.
Other Scotch Broom projects you might try:
- Make a Scotch Broom besom: Harvest and dry branches after the blooms have fallen, then use willow to bind them to an ash or other wooden handle.
- Lucky Mojo tin: Three scotch broom peas, one fava bean, a piece of pyrite and a piece of quartz in a small, pocket-sized tin. Include a slip of paper or other symbol of the specific project to which you want the luck turned.
- Sip a little Scotch Broom Flower Essence to chase away feelings of depression over the state of the world.
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