Gorse, Furze, Whin
(Ulex europaeus)




distribution map

The young plants have trifoliate, clover-like leaves on most bushes but these are later replaced by rigid, deeply furrowed spines, 15-25 mm long, with some hairs, especially near the base.

ID check

Gorse is an extremely spiny, much-branched shrub up to 2.5 m in height. It is found on acid, sandy heaths and is frequently planted in western Britain and in Ireland.

The intense yellow, pea-like flowers are 12-18 mm long, on short 3-5 mm stalks.

Gorse begins to flower about mid-winter and continues until June.

The pods are black with grey or brown hairs. They are 11-20 mm long and burst explosively in July.


  • In hedges it provides a windbreak for stock, but it was formerly cut and fed to them as well.

  • It grows mainly on the western fringe of Europe and can be killed by severe frosts.

  • The dense sharp foliage gives cover for small birds and provides well protected nest sites.

Return to Index Page