Flower of the Month

january – Gorse


New Year, new me – or rather new and updated version of Flower of the Month. From now on I will choose flowers that are in season, mostly wild, and that are helpful to our bees. Even though the name suggests I may include trees and shrubs as they are also very important for our bees.

Anyway moving on to the Flower of the Month….
Gorse is a large shrub that places itself around windy open moors or coastal grasslands. Its Latin name is Ulex europaeus. It is dark green with needle-like leaves on it. The dark-green leaves are arranged alternately along the branches. You’ll always remember if you fall into a gorse bush due to its spiky leaves (and I know from personal experience that it isn’t fun to see who can try to jump over said bush on a cold and chilly walk in the New Forest). Surrounding these are the small and dainty flowers. These are renowned for their coconut smell. They have large root systems which help them to fix nitrogen into the soil.

In the UK we have 3 species of Gorse: Common, Western and Dwarf but they are all pretty similar. The main difference is the time that they flower. The saying goes “When gorse is out bloom, kissing is out of season”. This refers to the fact that there will always be a gorse bush in flower somewhere. The name gorse originates for an Old English word “gorst”, which was used to describe the uncultivated land that the plant usually grows on. Furthermore, the yellow flower can be used as source for yellow dye and we know that many medieval people used it.

The common gorse is a perennial plant that can survive around 30 years in the wild .You probably won’t have one of these in your garden, or want one as a matter of fact, as in many cases this shrub is referred to as a weed. Perhaps it is best just to admire their colour and beauty from a safe distance and not to get up close and personal with Gorse…