Gorse flowers

Common name:
Gorse, Furze, Whins
Ulex europaeus
Aiteann gallda
Fabaceae (Pea and bean Family)
Flowering period:
December/January (scattered blooms) through to April
Limestone heaths, rough grassland, turlough edges, wetlands
Conservation Status:
occasional in the Burren

Short description:
Bright yellow flowers form dense clusters along the tips of spikey bluish-green thorny stems. This attractive shrub can grow to 200cm high

Noteworthy characteristics:
The striking yellow flowers bring welcome colour to the winter landscape in the Burren. Their sweet coconut scent wafts in the air during warmer days even in the winter.

Uses and other points of interest:
Gorse is not a plant typically associated with the Burren, given its preference for more acidic soils. However, there are a number of locations within the Burren where it does occur and these areas are generally associated with heathy habitats and limestone wetlands.

Gorse was highly regarded in Ireland during the 1600 ‘s, when land containing gorse was considered of high economical value. Gorse was used for a vast variety of practical purposes in early Ireland including for fuel, animal fodder, roofing, fencing, animal bedding, for harrowing, making hurleys, walking sticks, brooms and chimney cleaning. It was considered lucky to have a gorse shrub beside your house

Gorse was widely used medicinally in Ireland in the past in particular as a cough syrup (using flowers), in the treatment of digestive disorders including heartburn and hiccups, for jaundice, heart problems, intestinal worms and as a general tonic.

personal notes
I love the delicate coconut-like scent and bright yellow colour of gorse flowers.     Last year I managed to make some delicious gorse wine for the first time. The result was delightful and I hope to repeat the same this Spring, (tricky to collect the flowers as it is so spiky but worth it).


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