Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Gallery:

Common names:

European gorse, common gorse, furze, whin

Scientific Name:

Ulex europaeus

Description:

Gorse is a stout, thorny evergreen shrub in the Fabaceae (pea) family. It has erect, spreading, angular branches that are covered in 1/2 – 2 inch spines. The flowers are yellow, fragrant and pea- shaped, and they form clusters at the end of the thorny branches. The seed pods are hairy, turn brown as they ripen, and then burst to scatter their seeds several feet away. It mostly spreads by seed, but there is also some vegetative spread. It was introduced to Bandon, Oregon in the 1890’s as a living fence.

Life cycle:

Perennial

Height of mature plants

Up to 10 feet tall

Flower color:

yellow

Bloom time:

March – May

Look-a-likes:

Gorse is sometimes compared to scotch broom or other broom species, though the thorns on gorse make it easily distinguished from these other plants that do not have thorns.

Habitat:

Gorse can be found in open, disturbed areas, as well as shady stream-sides and grasslands. It seems to do best in sandy or gravelly soils that have abundant moisture.

Impacts:

Gorse is considered to be one of the most difficult weeds to control in the world.It spreads rapidly, crowds out native plants, and its seeds stay viable in the soil for 30 years. It’s stout, thorny branches create dense stands that can impede wildlife movement and render land as nearly worthless. Furthermore, the spines contain oils, and when combined with the older dead branches, they create a serious wildfire hazard. the town of Bandon, Oregon (where gorse was first introduced to Oregon) was burned to the ground by a wildfire that was fueled by gorse infestations.

Noxious Weed Listing:

Origin:

Europe

Links:

Oregon Noxious Weed Profile
Washington Noxious Weed Profile
Invasive.org profile
CABI Invasive Species Compendium
Global Invasive Species Database

 

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