Ulex europaeus


Family: Fabaceae

Other Common Names: common gorse, furze or whin

Origin:  Native to portions of Europe from the northern United Kingdom south to Galicia in Spain and Portugal, and from the western Republic of Ireland east to Galicja in Poland and Ukraine.

Description: Perennial species that can live up to 45 years.  Gorse is a spiny evergreen shrub growing up to 3meters tall.  Plant resembles Scotch broom. Young plants have trifoliate leaflets; mature plants have scales or spines. Spines are branched and grooved; 1.5–2.5 cm in length.Flowers are bright yellow pea-like and fragrant. Seedpods are black and hairy, up to 2 cm in length.

Reproduction:  Spreads vegatatively and by seed. Seeds may be dispersed by wildlife, water and machinery. Up to 18,000 seeds are produced per mature plant. Seeds mature in pods and remain viable for up to 40 years.

Legal Status: Provincial Noxious Weed under the Weed Control Act, Invasive Plant Regulation under the Forest and Range Practices Act.

Economic: Can hinder regeneration of logged areas and recreational use of land; can increase fire hazard as plants contain volatile oils and produce
large amounts of litter; can invade pastures and rangelands, replacing desirable forage plants.

Ecological: Out-competes native vegetation, decreases biodiversity, increases erosion. 
Human:  Reduces access for recreation, increases fire hazard,

Habitat: Prefers clearings such as sandy or rocky areas, roadsides, logged areas, bluffs, cutblocks, and cutbanks; prefers full sun and is
adapted to low soil fertility.

Status and Distribution:  It is most common on southern and central Vancouver Island, but also occurs on a number of Gulf Islands.

Management Strategy: 

• Avoid creating disturbances in infested areas which will promote seed germination as dormant seeds may start germinating once exposed to light.
• Wash equipment, clothing, and animals that have been in infested areas to prevent the spread of seeds.
Mechanical Control
• Hoeing or digging up small infestations, including all plant roots, may be effective. Re-sprouting can occur from any remaining rootportions. Follow-up treatments to remove seedlings originating from root portions or from the seed bank will be required.
• Seedlings must be pulled/dug out as mowing promotes vegetative growth. Larger equipmentmay be necessary to dig up the roots of larger plants and infestations.
• Cutting plants alone is not effective to completely remove an infestation; herbicide should be applied to the stumps following any cutting. Cutting above the root encourages re-sprouting. However, cutting will prevent seed-set for a growing season and can allow access to the plants for other forms of control.
• Repeated mowing may deplete plant root reserves. If mowing only once, however, it is recommended that mowing occur before the plants flower.
• Sprouting can occur from stumps following fire, but fire may be an effective control method for large infestations.
• No agents available in BC at this time.
Chemical Control
Herbicide recommendations and use must consider site characteristics and be prescribed based on site goals and objectives. Herbicide labels and other sources of information must be reviewed before selecting and applying herbicides.
• Herbicides can be applied in smaller amounts if they are applied to new shoots of mature plants. This can be achieved by first cutting back the plant and allowing re-growth.
• Basal treatment, or herbicides applied to cut stumps, can also be effective.
• Herbicide applied after bloom drop is most effective on Gorse.
• Glyphosate should be applied to growing plants. This treatment should be followed by seeding/replanting the site to prevent re-infestation from the seed bank.
• Selective broadleaf herbicides (e.g. dicamba, triclopyr, 2,4-D and metsulfuron) are also effective and useful when infestation is within a grassed area.
• Application of pesticides on Crown land must be carried out following a confirmed Pest Management Plan (Integrated Pest Management Act) and under the supervision of a certified pesticide applicator.


Additional Information:
Ministry of Agriculture – Weeds BC

Ministry of Forests Repository