Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a spiny shrub introduced as a hedge plant. It is sometimes called furze.
- erect, many-branched shrub, 4m x 3m
- young growth is green and older shoots become brown
- stems are woody when mature and covered with spines to 5cm
- leaves are dark green, hairy and spine-like, 1-3cm, evenly spaced along the stems in clusters
- flowers are bright yellow, pea-shaped and 2cm long in clusters near the end of branches
- fruit is a dark pod, 1-2cm long, covered in dense hair containing 2-6 seeds
- seeds are green-brown, smooth and shiny, 3mm long and triangular
- root system is dense consisting mostly of shallow fibrous feeding roots.
Why is it a problem?
- competes strongly with young trees and thickets in native vegetation and forestry
- fire hazard
- grows in pasture paddocks, resulting in lower carrying capacity
- harbour for vermin
- soils under gorse become more acid and lose nutrients over time.
- Southern Eyre Peninsula – scattered infestations
- Northern agricultural districts and Yorke Peninsula – common on roadsides and watercourses in the south
- Murray Mallee – isolated outbreaks in the higher rainfall area to the west
- South East – rare in the north, scattered in the south
- Central region – widespread in the higher rainfall areas.
- gorse is not restricted to any particular soil type, but thrives in poor, alkaline soils
- requires at least 500mm annual rainfall
- flowers during autumn and spring – two seed crops a year
- seeds mostly germinate in autumn or spring, mass germinations can occur after fire
- seed can remain viable for 75 years or longer, building up a huge seed bank in the soil.
How it spreads
- seeds are spread by birds, earthworks and vehicles.