photo of French broom, an invasive plant, by Ron Vanderhoff, from CalFlora

Nizie, Skyline High School, Oakland

Quilt Square #29

Ms. Johnson opens the gate for us, the gate to the forest filled with trees, bushes, plants, and plastic. On this forest walk we pick up trash and we defeat the invasive plants in “Skyline High School’s backyard.” 

French broom, or Genista monspessulana, is one of the main invasive plants we need to remove and destroy. Why you may ask? Because It’s harmful to the surrounding environment. They take resources like sunlight, nutrients, and water. 

Two of the other invasive species in our forest are the Eucalyptus tree and Himalayan blackberry. Eucalyptus is a big tree that sheds its bark a lot. They are bullies in my eyes: they take nutrients from other trees, they explode if they catch on fire, and they spread fire faster because of the shedding. They weaken other trees during fires, so other trees can’t survive and the Eucalyptus is the last one standing. And Himalayan blackberries are hard to control and dangerous to get near because of their sharp thorns. 

Besides all that, it is still amazing every time I step into the forest, my eyes curious to see more of the beautiful luscious forest around me. Then I turn my head to see a French broom. It is hard not to avoid seeing them, they are everywhere! I wonder how much these plants are suffering. Not to mention, before I even set foot in the forest, I see huge Eucalyptus trees towering over us. With each step, I can hear the crunch of the shedding of the bark from the Eucalyptus tree. 

Sadly, we can’t cut down the trees because of the law and stupid tree huggers. But the good news is that we can cut down and kill French broom. It was hard work, but there was amazing improvement. The spot we were in that used to be filled with French broom was all gone, although my armpits and arms were sore and tired. So before I get comfortable at home, it’s time to go and TAKE A SHOWER!

French Broom

These quilt works come from teacher Conor Carroll’s 2023 chemistry classes at Skyline High School.

Photo: Ron Vanderhoff, CalFlora