By: Teo Spengler
What is a gorse bush? Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is an evergreen shrub with green leaves shaped like conifer needles and brilliant yellow flowers. Flowering gorse shrubs are important in nature since they provide shelter and food for many insects and birds. However, gorse is a tough, tenacious shrub that spreads quickly and can become invasive. Read on for more gorse bush facts and information on gorse control.
If you ever tumble into a gorse bush, you will never forget it. What is a gorse bush? Gorse is a spiny, evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean. Gorse was brought into the United States as an ornamental in the 19th Century.
Gorse bush facts suggest that the shrub is a legume, a member of the pea family. Flowering gorse shrubs can grow tall and wide. Specimens grow to 15 feet (4.6 m.) in height with a spread of 30 feet (9.1 m.). They form compact shrubs, sufficiently dense and spiny to create an impassable hedge.
The bright yellow, coconut-perfumed flowers take the shape of pea blossoms, and grow at the end of the gorse branches. The mature branches have conspicuous spines.
The three principle species of flowering gorse shrubs are: common gorse, Western gorse and dwarf gorse. Common gorse flowers from January to June, while the others flower in late summer and fall.
Flowering gorse shrubs, and especially common gorse shrubs, can be difficult to control. One reason is that gorse propagates easily.
The plant produces abundant seeds that remain viable in the earth for up to three decades. If land is cleared or burned, the seeds are stimulated to germinate. Gorse colonizes these sites and forms thick, spiny stands very difficult to eradicate.
But gorse propagation isn’t limited to seed growth. Once flowering gorse shrubs are cut, they resprout quickly.
Given these gorse bush facts, it is easy to understand that gorse control is difficult, especially when the plant has developed into impenetrable stands. Flowering gorse shrubs choke out native plants, reducing diversity and degrading wildlife habitat.
Common gorse stands are real fire hazards. The foliage burns very easily, partly because the dead, dry foliage – very flammable – collects within the stands and at the base of the plants.
Established colonies of gorse are very difficult to remove. It’s easier to prevent the formation of stands by pulling out young plants when they first show up on your property.
You can fight back against gorse stands by mechanical control – that is, cutting the plants down and pulling them out by the roots. You’ll have more success if you combine this with chemical control.
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The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the role that shrubs play in home landscaping. Along with trees, shrubs are considered the "bones" of the landscape because they provide structure. But shrubs are more versatile than trees and can be planted in more areas. They are also not as difficult to transplant, should you change your mind at some point regarding just what the structure of your yard should be.
The problem is, with the great number of selections available, beginners often need help choosing from among all of the different shrub varieties. For starters, you can narrow your options by focusing on easy-to-grow shrubs that can reliably thrive in your climate. All of the plants listed here are cold-hardy to at least USDA zone 5.
Officially called Gorse, but generally known as Whin in Scotland, Whin is also the 17 th letter of the ancient Celtic alphabet. In Argyll and elsewhere Whin is associated with Cailleach, or the Goddess of Winter in the old Celtic tradition. It is an extremely hardy evergreen flowering shrub with sharp and ubiquitous spines all along its stems. The explosion of yellow flowers in late winter and early spring is accompanied by the powerful scent of sweet coconut. It grows all over Scotland where there are rough grassy places, loving acid soils near the coast, including clifftops. It has been introduced on the Isles.
Serving for leaves are sharp rigid and grooved spines up to 2.5cm long jutting out along the branching stems and at the ends. The flowers are typical pea flowers, bright yellow with 5 petals. They grow in clusters along the stems and are often present throughout the year, though at their most prolific in April-May. There is a saying in Scotland, ‘when the Whin is blooming, kissing’s in season,’ which refers, wishfully, to the fact that Whin can produce flowers all year round. The seed pod is a legume, about 2cm long, which splits open rather explosively to disperse its seeds.
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The Spruce / Letícia Almeida
A member of the Hibiscus genus of the mallow (Malvaceae) family of plants rather than a true rose, rose of Sharon is known for its large, plentiful blooms that appear from summer to fall. Species types grow 8 to 10 feet tall, but there are shorter cultivars available, such as 'Minerva', which reaches 5 to 8 feet. Rose of Sharon can be planted individually as a specimen plant, or grouped informally to create a shrub border. It is very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
The most widely familiar species is common gorse (Ulex europaeus), the only species native to much of western Europe, where it grows in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils. It is also the largest species, reaching 2–3 m (7–10 ft) in height this compares with typically 20–40 cm (8–16 in) for western gorse (Ulex gallii). This latter species is characteristic of highly exposed Atlantic coastal heathland and montane habitats. In the eastern part of Great Britain, dwarf furze (Ulex minor) replaces western gorse. Ulex minor grows only about 30 cm (12 in) tall, a habit characteristic of sandy lowland heathland.
Common gorse flowers a little in late autumn and through the winter, coming into flower most strongly in spring. Western gorse and dwarf furze flower in late summer (August–September in Ireland and Great Britain). Between the different species, some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrase: "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion".  Gorse flowers have a distinctive coconut scent, experienced very strongly by some individuals, but weakly by others.  
Ulex comprises the following species:   
The status of the following species is unresolved: 
The following hybrids have been described: 
Gorse may grow as a fire-climax plant, well adapted to encourage and withstand fires, being highly flammable,  and having seed pods that are to a large extent opened by fire, thus allowing rapid regeneration after fire. The burnt stumps also readily sprout new growth from the roots. Where fire is excluded, gorse soon tends to be shaded out by taller-growing trees, unless other factors like exposure also apply. Typical fire recurrence periods in gorse stands are 5–20 years.
Gorse thrives in poor growing areas and conditions including drought  it is sometimes found on very rocky soils,  where many species cannot thrive. Moreover, it is widely used for land reclamation (e.g., mine tailings), where its nitrogen-fixing capacity helps other plants establish better.
Gorse is a valuable plant for wildlife, providing dense thorny cover ideal for protecting bird nests. In Britain, France, and Ireland, it is particularly noted for supporting Dartford warblers (Sylvia undata) and European stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) the common name of the whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) attests to its close association with gorse. The flowers are sometimes eaten by the caterpillars of the double-striped pug moth (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata), while those of the case-bearer moth Coleophora albicosta feed exclusively on gorse. The dry wood of dead gorse stems provides food for the caterpillars of the concealer moth Batia lambdella.
In many areas of North America (notably California and Oregon), southern South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, the common gorse, introduced as an ornamental plant or hedge, has become an invasive species due to its aggressive seed dispersal it has proved very difficult to eradicate and detrimental in native habitats. Common gorse is also an invasive species in the montane grasslands of Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka. 
Gorse readily becomes dominant in suitable conditions, and where this is undesirable for agricultural or ecological reasons control is required, either to remove gorse completely, or to limit its extent. Gorse stands are often managed by regular burning or flailing, allowing them to regrow from stumps or seed. Denser areas of gorse may be bulldozed.
Gorse flowers are edible and can be used in salads, tea and to make a non-grape-based fruit wine. [ citation needed ]
As fodder, gorse is high in protein  and may be used as feed for livestock, particularly in winter when other greenstuff is not available. Traditionally it was used as fodder for cattle, being made palatable either by "bruising" (crushing) with hand-held mallets, or grinding to a moss-like consistency with hand- or water-driven mills, or being finely chopped and mixed with straw chaff. [ citation needed ] Gorse is also eaten as forage by some livestock, such as feral ponies, which may eat little else in winter. Ponies may also eat the thinner stems of burnt gorse.
Gorse bushes are highly flammable, and in many areas bundles of gorse were used to fire traditional bread ovens. 
In the island of Guernsey, Channel Islands, many traditional farms had furze brakes. The prolific gorse and bracken would be cut, dried and stored to be used as fuel, with farmhouses having purpose built furze ovens.  
Gorse wood has been used to make small objects being non-toxic, it is especially suited for cutlery. In spite of its durability it is not used for construction because the plant is too small and the wood is unstable, being prone to warping. Gorse is useful for garden ornaments because it is resistant to weather and rot.
Gorse has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies,  a kind of alternative medicine.
The furze is the badge of the Sinclair and MacLennan clans of Scotland. Compare this with the broom (planta genista) as the emblem and basis of the name of the Plantagenet kings of England.
The flower, known as chorima in the Galician language, is considered the national flower of Galicia in northwest Spain.
The gorse is also the emblem of Brittany and is regaining popularity in Cornwall, particularly on St Piran's Day.
Its flammability rendered gorse symbolic as quickly flammable and quickly burning out for example, Doyle, in his book Sir Nigel, has Sir John Chandos say: ". They flare up like a furzebush in the flames, but if for a short space you may abide the heat of it, then there is a chance that it may be cooler. If the Welsh be like the furze fire, then, pardieu! the Scotch are the peat, for they will smolder and you will never come to the end of them." 
In many parts of Britain, especially Devon and Cornwall where it is particularly prevalent on the moors, the expression "kissing's out of fashion when the gorse is out of blossom"  is a traditional jest as common gorse is thought to be always in bloom. Gorse, or rather furze as it was usually known in the West Country, sprigs were a traditional May Day gift between young lovers in the region, when in fact the blossom is at its peak.
They are best planted in April
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is advising gardeners to add brightly-coloured plants and weather-resilient herbs and shrubs to their gardens to help in the fight against future droughts brought on by climate change.
Their newly-appointed environmental horticulture team drew up a list of plants that can survive extremely hot and dry weather for The Telegraph. Britain experienced temperatures of 35C during last summer's heatwave.
They include herbs and shrubs like rosemary, lavender, gorse and Russian sage, along with eye-catching plants such as the pink rock rose and yellow-flowering Spanish broom.
Here's the full-list of drought-proof plants recommended by the RHS:
1. Rock rose (Cistus x pulverulentus 'Sunset'): Sun-loving cistus are high on the list of drought-tolerant evergreens and this plant is not only one of the best, but also one of easiest to find at nurseries and garden centres.
2. Flannel bush (Fremontodendron‘California Glory’): A classic evergreen for a sunny south facing wall and known for its ability to cope with dry soil in such a difficult position.
3. Sahuc rock rose (× Halimiocistus sahucii): A low, unexpectedly hardy, narrow-leaved, spreading evergreen with a long succession of golden-centred, pure-white flowers from May to September.
4. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Miss Jessopp's Upright'): A compact, erect, medium-sized evergreen shrub with aromatic, narrowly oblong, dark green leaves that are whitish beneath.
5. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miss Muffet = ‘Scholmis’): Lavenders are amongst the most reliable of drought-tolerant shrubs and there’s a rapidly increasing range available. This plant is unusually neat and compact, with narrow greyish-green leaves, and the impressively prolific spikes of violet-blue flowers sit low over the foliage in summer. Makes fine low edging with a strong aroma. To minimise the risk of plant disease Xylella fastidiosa should be UK sourced or grown.
6. Tree lupin (Lupinus arboreus): Originally from the Californian sand dunes - so it can certainly cope with dry soil - this broad, mound-forming evergreen features neatly lobed leaves which make an attractive background for the 25cm (10in) spikes of fragrant, two-tone yellow flowers. Not long-lived, and often resents pruning, but usually self sows, especially in gravel. 1m (40in).
7. Russian sage (Perovskia‘Blue Spire’): The combination of upright stems lined with prettily divided silvery foliage, these crowded plumes of violet-blue flowers open from August onwards. The plant’s ability to grow in a range of dry soils without complaint explain its popularity. It’s also a good cut flower – and of course it takes drought in its stride.
8. Spanish broom (Spartium junceum): The mass of fragrant, bright yellow pea flowers, which top the shoots from August into autumn, is this plant's main feature. Although deciduous, the bright green stems give it an unexpectedly colourful winter look. It thrives in poor conditions, in fact the best looking specimens are usually in dry, exposed situations. To minimise the risk of plant disease Xylella fastidiosa it should be UK sourced or grown.
9. Gorse (Ulex europaeus ‘Flore Pleno’) : 'Kissing’s out of season when gorse is out of bloom', as the old saying goes. Yes, it flowers in just about every month of the year, with its main display in spring, but the rich yellow flowers of this form are double so each lasts longer than usual to enhance the display. Best in acid soil with all day sunshine.
10. Variegated needle palm (Yucca filamentosa‘Color Guard’): Usually classified with shrubs, although forming an evergreen stemless rosette, ‘Color Guard’ features slender foliage with a broad yellow central stripe running the length of each leaf. The result is dramatic, and enhanced by a tower of large white bells in July and August. Insists on sun, good on dry slopes.
The environmental horticulture team, who have been tasked with finding new ways to protect Britain's gardens from extreme weather brought on by climate change, say all of these plants can be added to the ground from April. They will then have time to bed in before the summer.
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Ulex europaeus (common gorse) has bright yellow flowers from March to May. Height from 7 to 10ft (2 to 3m).
Ulex europaeus 'Flore Pleno' (Syn. 'Plenus') is a dwarf, semi-double form with deep yellow spring flowers. Height and spread to 5ft (1.5m).
Ulex gallii (western gorse) is a compact autumn-flowering form. Height and spread from 5 to 8ft (1.5 to 2.5m).