Gorse

Ulex europaeus

About

Windy, open moors or coastal grasslands covered in bright yellow Gorse and purple heathers are synonymous with what we call 'wild' landscapes. Yet Gorse can be seen in all kinds of habitats from heaths and commons to towns and gardens. It generally flowers from January to June (although it may flower sporadically throughout the year), while its close relatives - Western Gorse and Dwarf Gorse - flower from July to November. Gorse is a member of the pea family.

How to identify

Gorse is a large, evergreen shrub covered in needle-like leaves and distinctive, coconut-perfumed, yellow flowers during the spring and summer. There are three species of gorse in the UK, which are all very similar: Common Gorse is widespread and mainly flowers form January to June, Western Gorse flowers in later summer and autumn and is mainly found in western parts of the UK; whereas Dwarf Gorse, which also flowers later, is mainly found in the south and east of England and is absent from Ireland.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Gorse is an important shrub as it provides shelter and food for many insects and birds, such as Dartford Warblers, Stonechats and Yellowhammers. However, it can quickly become invasive in an area, forming dense, impenetrable stands. The Wildlife Trusts manage many heathland and grassland habitats for the benefit of wildlife - careful grazing with traditional breeds and scrub clearance are just a couple of the ways they ensure a balance of plants and cover in these fragile habitats. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Gorse
Latin name
Ulex europaeus
Category
Trees and shrubs
Statistics
Height: up to 2m Spine length: 1-3cm Flower length: 1-2cm
Conservation status
Common.