Soil texture and other site-level factors differentially affect growth of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings in the western Pacific Northwest.
The invasive shrub Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link) is a pervasive threat to regenerating Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco var. menziesii) stands in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Field observations indicate that the susceptibility of areas to Scotch broom invasion and dominance can vary by site. We selected 10 sites throughout the western Pacific Northwest that spanned a gradient of soil textures and other factors to test the site-specific susceptibility of Douglas-fir to overtopping by Scotch broom. We expected to find that the ability of Scotch broom to dominate a site was mediated by site-level factors, particularly those influencing soil water - the most limiting factor to growth in the region. We found Scotch broom and Douglas-fir were inversely affected by site-level factors. In general, Douglas-fir absolute height growth rates were more competitive with those of Scotch broom on fine-textured soils than on more coarsely textured soils. We also found Douglas-fir to have a more dramatic response to increasing down woody material than Scotch broom. Scotch broom height growth approached an asymptote at 3 m. Sites with fast-growing Douglas-fir were able to surpass this height 6-7 years after planting and appear likely to avoid suppression by Scotch broom.