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At its best in April and May on heathland and other habitats where the soil is poor and acidic.


Gorse: the kissing season

Post date: Thursday, 13 August, 2015 - 00:00

"When gorse is in flower kissing is in season!" There are not many months of the year when it seems gorse (Ulex europaeus) 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 the spring equinox (usualy the 21st March) onwards the heaths and downs are aglow with the vibrant yellow flowers of the furze, a local name for gorse. The other wonderful thing you notice as you walk amongst the yellow flowered bushes in the strong, unmistakable scent resembling coconut; lovely!

The common or European gorse does not actually flower all year as it may seem. It tends to take a rest from mid summer but by then, in July through to September, the dwarf gorse 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. Then from August through until as late as November in some years western gorse flowers and by Christmas the common gorse can be showing some yellow again.

All three species of gorse are 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. This used to done by controlled burning but now mechanical 'shredders' are used which is much less destructive on reptiles and other creatures.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Gorse
Alternative Name(s) European Gorse
Scientific Name Ulex europaeus
Status Locally abundant
Interest Level
Species Family Pea Family - Fabaceae
Flower Colour Group Yellow
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
Look for Bushy gorse flowering in winter and spring - smells of coconut
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
H1: Dry Heath Associated
H2: Dry Heath/Acid Grassland Mosaic Associated
SM: Mixed Scrub Associated