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 Ulex subsp. var.  Gorse, furze, furse, whin
Whin or Gorse.JPG
Habit: [[Category:]]
Height: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Features: flowers, fragrance, naturalizes, invasive, drought tolerant
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Fabaceae > Ulex var. ,

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Gorse, furze, furse or whin (Ulex) is a genus of about 20 species of spiny evergreen shrubs in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to western Europe and northwest Africa, with the majority of species in Iberia.

Gorse is closely related to the brooms, and like them, has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions. However it differs in its extreme spininess, with the shoots being modified into branched spines 1 - 4 cm long, which almost wholly replace the leaves as the plant's functioning photosynthetic organs. The leaves of young plants are trifoliate, but are later reduced to scales or small spines.[1] All the species have yellow flowers, some with a very long flowering season.

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 in height; this compares with typically 20 - 40 cm for Western Gorse (Ulex gallii). This latter species is characteristic of highly exposed Atlantic coastal heathland and montane habitats. Western gorse is replaced in the eastern part of Great Britain by Dwarf Furze (Ulex minor), a plant about 30 cm in tall, 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 Britain). Between the different species, some gorse is almost always in flower.

Gorse thrives in poor growing areas and conditions including drought;[2] it is sometimes found on very rocky soils,[3] 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.

In many areas Common Gorse has become naturalised and an invasive weed due to its aggressive seed dispersal; it has proved very difficult to eradicate.

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 "wine".

Gorse bushes are highly flammable.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Ulex (ancient Latin name of this or a similar plant). Leguminosae. Furze. Gorse. Whin. Ornamental woody plants grown for their handsome yellow flowers and evergreen appearance.

Spiny shrubs: lvs. mostly scale-like, only vigorous shoots near the ground bearing fully developed lvs.: fls. papilionaceous, axillary at the end of the branchlets; calyx 2-lipped, divided nearly to the base; standard ovate, wings and keel obtuse; stamens alternately longer and shorter: pods small, ovoid, few-seeded; seeds strophiolate.—About 20 species in W. and S. Eu. and in N. Afr. Closely allied to Cytisus and chiefly distinguished by the deeply 2-lobed calyx. The fls. yield a yellow dye. Sometimes cult. as a winter fodder plant, in Eu., the green sprigs of one year's growth being eaten.

The furzes are much-branched shrubs with dark green spiny branches, usually almost leafless, and with showy yellow papilionaceous flowers which are axillary and often crowded at the ends of the branches. They are not hardy North, but under protection they survive the winters in New England. They are valuable as sand-binders for covering dry sandy banks and are also well suited for seaside planting. On account of their dark green branches they have the appearance of evergreen plants and they are very showy when covered with their yellow flowers. They are also sometimes used for low hedges. They prefer sandy or gravelly porous soil and a sunny position; in rich garden soil they grow more rampant, but do not bloom so well. They should be sown where they are to stand, as they do not bear transplanting well, or if this is not feasible, they should be sown singly in small pots and the plants then planted out in their permanent places. Propagation is by seeds sown in spring after the danger from frost has passed: by greenwood cuttings under glass; or by cuttings of nearly mature wood in early summer in a coldframe under glass, forming roots the following spring. Varieties and rarer kinds are sometimes grafted in spring in the greenhouse on U. europaeus. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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Ulex argenteus
Ulex boivinii
Ulex borgiae
Ulex cantabricus
Ulex densus
Ulex europaeus - Common Gorse
Ulex gallii - Western Gorse or Western Furze
Ulex genistoides
Ulex micranthus
Ulex minor - Dwarf Furze or Dwarf Gorse
Ulex parviflorus


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