BugwoodWiki Article

gorse
Ulex europaeus L.

Overview

Appearance
Ulex europaeus is an evergreen, perennial shrub native to Europe. Plants can grow from 3-6 ft. (1-2 m) in height. Shoots are covered with reddish-brown to grey hairs.
Foliage
Leaves are spine-like and 0.25-0.75 in. (0.6-1.9 cm) long. Mature shrubs have 1 in. (2.5 cm) long spines on the branches.
Flowers
Flowering occurs from winter to early spring, when shiny, yellow flowers develop in the axils of the leaves. Flowers are 1.0 in. (2.5 cm) long.
Fruit
Fruits are hairy, 0.5-1 in. (1.3-2.5 cm) long pods.
Ecological Threat
U. europaeus was introduced into North America in the mid-to-late 1800s as an ornamental. Plants invade gravel bars, logged areas and other disturbed areas. U. europaeus cannot tolerate extremely dry areas or areas with extreme temperatures.
General Description

The following description of Ulex europaeus is adapted from Skipper (1922), Chater (1931), McMinn (1951), Robbins et al. (1951), Pryor and Dana (1952), Yeates (1955), Moss (1959), Hitchcock et al. (1961), Munz and Keck (1973), Rudolf (1974), Amme (1983), and Williams (1983).

Gorse is an evergreen, leguminous shrub. The simple, stiff leaves are spinose or acicular, approximately 5-15 mm long. The typical trifoliolate leaf of the legumes is seen only in the seedling and in plants which grow in rich damp soils. The plant reproduces by both creeping roots or by seeds.

The shiny yellow flowers are solitary or racemose, often clustered at the ends of branches. The pubescent yellow calyx (10-15 mm long) is deeply 2-lipped, the upper lip 2-toothed and the lower lip 3-toothed. The corolla is 15-18 mm long with an ovate banner and oblong, obtuse wings and keel. The wings are larger than the keel. The 10 stamens are monadelphous.

The short, oblong villous fruit pods are 15-18 mm long, many seeded, and turn brown when ripe. Gorse plants are heavy with ripe seed in coastal California by May. The olive green to brownish seeds are smooth and shining, approximately 2 mm long.

Gorse is an evergreen, leguminous shrub which resembles Scotch broom somewhat in general appearance. It can be easily distinguished from brooms by its prickly nature and profusion of yellow flowers. Although gorse may grow taller elsewhere, individuals in California rarely exceed 3.5 m and more commonly are only 1-2 m high. The short, stout branches are green when young but turn brown with age. They are often densely packed and superficially appear leafless. Their prickly nature is due to well developed branch spines growing in the axils of the leaves.

Resources

Selected Images


5287011
5287011

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Plant(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5287006
5287006

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
0021006
0021006

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Eric Coombs
5285021
5285021

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5286047
5286047

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5286037
5286037

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
0021008
0021008

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Foliage
George Markin
0021012
0021012

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Feature(s)
Norman E. Rees
5287002
5287002

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Feature(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5287029
5287029

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Fruit(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5285024
5285024

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Fruit(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5285025
5285025

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Feature(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5286043
5286043

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Plant(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5287025
5287025

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Flower(s)
Forest and Kim Starr
5309023
5309023

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Plant(s)
USDA PLANTS Database
5309024
5309024

gorse
Ulex europaeus
Seed(s)
Steve Hurst

Maps


EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

EDDMapS Distribution

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

State Regulated List

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Genus: Ulex

Other System Links

Plants: ULEU
Bayer: ULEEU
GRIN: 40812
ITIS: 27013
NPDN Pest: PCQBZBA

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
furze, whin, common gorse, Irish furze

Categories

Category: Shrub or Subshrub