Here’s a good article about gorse (Ulex spp.) by Chris at Woodlands.co.uk

There’s gorse in bloom now, somewhere in the British Isles. There’s always gorse in bloom. As Paul Simons at the Guardian reminds us, an old proverb says that ‘When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season.’ So pucker up if you’re with somebody you want to kiss. We don’t have to wait until it’s time to hang up the Christmas mistletoe.

The common gorse (U. europaeus) is one of three species of gorse found growing in these islands. The others are the dwarf gorse (U. minor) and the western gorse (U. gallii). Here’s a map of U. europaeus‘s distribution, shown to us by the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

I have wonderful memories of gorse. Starting with its mention in this story about Winnie-the-Pooh. I still have my childhood copies of the Pooh storybooks. Like many children, I learned there to love nature. Years later I learned that Christopher Milne didn’t appreciate how his father had sold his childhood – you couldn’t do such a thing now – but the stories in which Pooh falls into gorse bushes became part of my baby-botanist’s mind. In more recent years I’ve enjoyed the coconut smell of U. europaeus in flower alongside many of the paths I’ve walked.

If you’re in North America, Australia or New Zealand you’ll have a different view of gorse. In those countries gorse was introduced by European settlers. Here’s a history of how gorse became, and remains, an invasive weed.

I suppose that if you’re from a country where gorse is a weed, it might seem strange to see it through my eyes. And to smell it through my nose, and to kiss in admiration of it. If gorse is invasive where you live, I know that you need to wage war on it. But I hope that you’ll also make delicious gorse flower cordial.

[Edit] My fellow blogger Theresa Green at Everyday Nature Trails tells us about gorse, furze or maybe even whin.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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2 Responses to Gorse

  1. beeseeker says:

    Local saying here is that girls may kiss boys when the gorse is blooming … But boys kissing girls? No mention 😉

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