Perhaps the best known and most widely distributed of our native shrubs, gorse is also known as whin or furze. There are two types, the common or European gorse, and the western or mountain gorse. The common gorse is a very suitable shrub component along the edge of new woodland, and also makes an excellent hedge. Gorse is well known for flowering almost all the year round, and its spiny 'leaves' are evergreen. Gorse supports many insects and spiders, which in turn provide food for small birds, which may nest in the excellent shelter provided by these dense spiny bushes. It is often under-estimated as a wildlife resource. The flowers were traditionally used to colour Easter eggs, and may even be used for wine.
Ulex europaeus and Ulex gallii
Gorse seeds may easily be harvested by picking the soft brown seed pods in late summer.
The seeds should be extracted from the pods and treated as for broom. They are best sown in a prepared seedbed on their final site, or grown in pots - bare root seedlings do not transplant well. Gorse seedlings are frost sensitive and prefer well drained sandy/acid soil.