Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

"When Gorse is in flower kissing is in season!" There are not many months of the year when it seems Gorse is not in flower but there is no doubt, here in Purbeck at least, that it is at its best in April and May. From about now the heaths and downs are aglow with the vibrant yellow flowers of the Furze, a local name for the Gorse.

The other splendid thing you notice as you walk amongst the yellow flowered bushes in the strong, unmistakable scent resembling coconut; lovely!

The Common Gorse does not actually flower all year it tends to take a rest in late summer but by then, in July through to September, the Dwarf Gorse (Ulex minor) takes its place. Superficially they are very similar, you just tend to think that Dwarf Gorse is a young Gorse bush but it is a different species.

Gorse is an important plant for insects, spiders and some species of birds, notably the Dartford Warbler. Too much, however, can dominate the heathers and so it has to be cleared from time to time, often by controlled burning.

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