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common gorse, gorse

Habit Shrubs 2–3 m.

extensively intertwined, branchlets leafy;

older plants with dead mass at center.


calyx ± yellow, membranous, lobes concave, 12–15 mm, hairs ± spreading;

corolla persistent;

banner ovate, to 20 mm;

wings and keel oblong, slightly shorter than banner, obtuse;

wings slightly longer than keel.


dark purplish brown, 1.5–2.5 × 6–8 mm, explosively dehiscent.


brownish green;

hilar appendages relatively small.


4–14 mm.


1.5–7 mm wide.


= 32, 64, 96.

Ulex europaeus

Phenology Flowering Jan–Nov.
Habitat Roadsides, pastures, open forests, coastal bluffs, floodplains, disturbed areas in well-drained soils, particularly in coastal regions.
Elevation 0–400 m. (0–1300 ft.)
from FNA
CA; MA; NY; OR; PA; VA; WA; WV; BC; w Europe [Introduced in North America; introduced also in South America, c, n Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands (Hawaii, New Zealand), Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Ulex europaeus is cultivated for fodder, bedding, and hedges; the flowers are used to produce a dye. An extract from the seeds is used for tissue typing, due to its ability to selectively bind with certain types of lipids and proteins.

In Massachusetts, the species was last collected in 1931 and is likely extirpated there.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 11.
Parent taxa Fabaceae > subfam. Faboideae > Ulex
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 741. (1753)
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