Fabaceae - Ulex species

What does it look like?

Gorse is a deep-rooted, woody perennial shrub that can grow to 4m tall. It has densely spined branches and is woody when mature. Gorse has bright yellow flowers from May to November, and black seed pods in summer. Gorse seed reserves in the soil are long-lasting and abundant under and near established infestations.

Grows well on a variety of soil types including light sands, heavy clays and disturbed soils. Its habitat includes river-beds, pasture, scrubland, forest margins and waste land.

Why is it a problem?

Gorse has the ability to occupy a wide range of soil types, and recovers easily after burning. It is quick to colonise new areas, forming dense thickets. The plant invades pasture land and roadsides as well as low growing or regenerating native vegetation.

An established hedge can produce up to 6 million seeds per hectare per year. Flowering begins when the plant is around 18 months old, with flowering usually occurring in spring and autumn.  In cold climates flowering may only occur once a year, but flowers can remain year-round when conditions are favourable.  Bushes can live for up to 30 years.

As a member of the nitrogen-fixing family, gorse can promote healthy soil-nutrient levels for native plants. Where native trees are to be planted, gorse can act as a nursery plant as it will die-off due to its shade intolerance, as native species will begin to create cover as the canopy develops.

Control Methods


Four biocontrols have been released for gorse, Gorse pod moth, Gorse seed weevil, Gorse spider mite and Gorse thrips.  If you would like to learn more, click on the request info button or contact us on 0800 002 004 Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Physical control

  • Sites with appropriate native tall forest species present can usually be left to be overtopped.  Exclusion of grazing stock is essential. This can also be sped-up by selective slashing, stump swabbing or planting.

Herbicide control

  • Stump swab: 250ml glyphosate (360g/l) per 750ml water or 2g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) per 1L water or 250ml triclopyr (600 EC) per 750ml water or 100ml Tordon Brushkiller per 1L water or Vigilant gel.
  • Spray (spring-summer): 60 ml triclopyr (600 EC) +penetrant per 10L water. 
  • Spray (autumn-winter): 5g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) + penetrant per 10L - knapsack or (35g/100L + penetrant - spraygun) or Tordon Brushkiller (250ml/100L spraygun).
  • Frilling: With a sharp chisel or axe, make a deep cut into the sapwood at regular intervals around the base of the tree, taking care not to ring-bark the plant. Immediately saturate each cut with undiluted Tordon Brushkiller.
  • Drill and fill. Drill 10-12mm holes around trunk at 200mm spacing and fill with undiluted Tordon Brushkiller using a sheep drench pack with a spraygun.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed. 

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