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.
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 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