Gorse - Ulex europaeus
Found on wasteground, heaths, commons, roadsides, and cliffs
Has dense dark-green spines
Yellow pea-like flowers all year
Flowers smell mildly of coconut
Flowers followed by pea-like seed pods
Gorse - Ulex europaeus
Edible plant - novice
Other common names: Furze, European Gorse, Common Gorse, Whin, Honey-Bottle, Fingers-And-Thumbs, French Fuzz
Scientific name meaning: Apium is derived from the latin Apis, for “bee” in reference to the bee's supposed preference of the plant. Europaeus is of Latin origin, meaning "of or from Europe"
Season All year - peak flowering in April/May
Habitat - where will I find it? Gorse can be found on wasteground, commons, cliffs, heaths, and roadsides. It is a native of Western Europe and has been introduced to New Zealand, the Americas, Africa and Australasia. It is considered an invasive pest in most of the areas it has been introduced to
Description - what does it look like? Reaching up to 2m, Gorse is densely covered in dark-green spines. All year is has yellow pea-like flowers - it is a member of the pea (Fabaceae) family. However, peak flowering time is April/May
Possible lookalikes Western Gorse (Ulex gallii) and Dwarf Gorse (Ulex minor) are very similar, but both have the same edible qualities.
Brooms also look very similar from a distance, but they lack the dense spines of Gorse
Use as a food The flowers are used to make syrups, Gorse lemonade, herbals infusions, jellies, and capers
Use in herbal medicine Used in the Bach Flower Remedies "Despair" and "Hopelessness".
Was believed to have been used to treat scarlet fever
If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner
Other uses The ashes of burnt Gorse can be used as a fertiliser, or mixed with vegetable oil to make a soap.
Gorse is a nitrogen fixer and its spines protect saplings, so it is used as a pioneer shrub for establishing new woodland
Hazards It is very easy to injure oneself on the spines when harvesting flowers. Heavy duty garden gloves are advised
Importance to other species Provides a year-round food source for pollinators
Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!