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 from March until 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 summer but by then, in July, Western Gorse (a separate species) takes over as does the Dwarf Gorse (Ulex minor).

Superficially all three are very simlar. Dwarf Gorse is often overlooked as a young Gorse bush but it is actually 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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