Home Gardening Gorse: The Spiny Evergreen Shrub | Wildlife Value, Growing Guide, and More

Gorse: The Spiny Evergreen Shrub | Wildlife Value, Growing Guide, and More

by Gregory
2 minutes read

Gorse: The Spiny Evergreen Shrub


Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a unique and fascinating evergreen shrub native to the UK. Known for its bright yellow flowers, sweet coconut scent, and spiny branches, gorse is a valuable addition to wildlife gardens and can be used to create dense, prickly hedges.


  • Height: Up to 2.5 meters
  • Spread: Up to 2.5 meters
  • Flower color: Yellow
  • Foliage color: Green (modified leaves)
  • Soil: Well-drained, acidic, sandy
  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy

Habitat and Distribution

Gorse is commonly found on heathlands, sea cliffs, and waste ground throughout the UK, except on the Scottish Islands. It thrives in poor soil and exposed areas, making it well-suited to coastal and upland environments.

Wildlife Value

Gorse is a haven for wildlife. Its spiny branches provide shelter and nesting sites for birds, while its flowers attract bees, beneficial insects, and butterflies. It is also a caterpillar food plant, and its nectar and pollen are a valuable source of food for insects.

Growing Gorse

Gorse is easy to grow and requires minimal care.

  • Soil: Gorse prefers well-drained, acidic, sandy soil.
  • Sunlight: Plant gorse in a sunny spot.
  • Planting: Plant gorse at any time of year, but avoid planting in fertile garden soil, as this can cause it to become leggy.
  • Watering: Water gorse regularly until it is established.
  • Pruning: Prune gorse bushes after flowering in late spring or early summer. Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling these spiky plants.

Buying Gorse

  • Check for plants that are free of pests and diseases.
  • If buying bare-root gorse, plant it during the dormant season (November to March).
  • Potted gorse plants are more expensive but can be planted at any time of year.

Companion Plants

Gorse pairs well with other plants that thrive in similar conditions, such as heather, broom, and lavender.

Is Gorse Poisonous?

Gorse is not poisonous to humans or animals.

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