Ulex europaeus (Gorse)
|Price £ each (ex. VAT)|
Available from November to April
The prices above are offered as a guide and may be subject to fluctuation dependant upon the time of season and supply. We recommend that contact is made with the office for larger orders, a quotation and to check availability Alternatively please contact us to enquire about opening a wholesale account.
Also known as Furze or Whin, Gorse is a fast-growing native shrub, which is important to a wide range of wildlife. Found on woodland margins, rocky hillsides and wasteland, it does well on poor thin soils. Densely spiny, its bright yellow flowers are borne over a very long period, giving rise to the old saying ‘When gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of season.’
Site and soil
Exposed hillside and coastal sites on poor thin soils. Needs well-drained, acid - neutral soil.
Height and spread
After 10 years: 2.5m x 2m
After 20 years: 2.5m x 2m
Leaf and bark
The stiff evergreen leaves have been modified into ridged spines. The bark is smooth and dark green and the shoots are tipped with sharp spines.
Flower, seed and fruit
The bright yellow pea-like flowers are borne singly or in pairs. The main flush of flowering is in spring, but flowers bloom on and off for many months; they are strongly scented. They are followed by downy seed-pods, which turn black on ripening. The pods explode with a loud crack in hot sunshine to propel the seeds over a wide distance.
Hedges, screening, game cover, coppicing for fuel, specimen shrub. The very dense, spiny habit of Gorse makes it a good choice for security planting. The crushed stems are used as fodder for cattle and horses. The wood is used as fuel, and the ashes from the burnt wood were once used to make soap and are a good source of potash for the garden. The flowers produce a yellow dye, and the leaf-buds make a pleasant tea. On washing days, clothes were draped over Gorse bushes to dry.
An important shrub for wildlife, Gorse provides nesting sites for a variety of birds, including the scarce Dartford Warbler, the Stonechat and Linnet. A number of moths feed on the leaves and the bark, and the flowers are a rich source of nectar for bees and other insects.
Gorse can be pruned in early summer after the main burst of flowering. It can be hard-pruned to the ground to rejuvenate old shrubs at the same time.