Gorse, Ulex europaeus
Gorse always reminds me of happy spring weekends as a boy at my Nan and Grandad's caravan in Cumbria. Although they regularly flower throughout the year, these prickly bushes are at the fullest around about Easter time. Easy to spot and very abundant in hedgerows and field edges, the flowers of the Gorse bush are absolutely beautiful and smell delightful with their coconut aroma. They can be strewn over a salad as a pretty garnish, but are mostly used to make a sweet, refreshing tea. Care should be taken when gathering, as the spiny foilage can really give the fingers a bit of a hard time. The easiest way to protect little (and large) hands is to wear a thin pair of gardening gloves. To really get the most out of the beautiful aroma, gathering should ideally be done on a warm, sunny day. Gorse is a member of the Pea Family and it's flower shape somewhat resembles those of other Pea members, such as the Vetch.
🐑 Grassland, including paddocks, fields and meadows.
🌊 Waterways, including rivers, lakes and streams.
🚜 Hedgerows, including field edges.
🌸🌞🍂❄️ Jan - Dec
☘️ Robust, green needle-like thorns. These are very sharp!
🌷 Beautiful, bright yellow flowers emerging from a tough and slightly hairy husk. They resemble pea flowers.
Fruit / Seeds
🍏 The seed pods are dark brown to purple or black, and covered with fuzzy white hairs. The pods contain three or four small black seeds, which are inedible.
Aroma / Taste
👃 The beautiful little yellow flowers smell of sweet coconut.
👅 Can taste of almond or coconut, but some people report them to be bitter. Our experience has been somewhere in between.
🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
👀 The pretty, bright yellow pea-like flowers are a key identifier of this plant.
👃 The coconut aroma of the flowers on a sunny day is also a key identifier.
🤚 The sharp and spiky thorn-like leaves are also a key identifier. Take Care!
⛔️ Although the flowers are safe to eat raw, they should be eaten occasionally and in small amounts as, like many members of the wild pea family, they contain small amounts of mildly toxic compounds that could make you feel unwell if you eat too much.
⛔️ The spiky thorns of Gorse are very sharp and will definitiely give you a jab or five if you're picking with your bare hands!
✅ To avoid holy fingers, wear a thin pair of gardening gloves to harvest the flowers. Children should also take care around the bushes when playing - falling in would be very painful!
🥗 Salad - Can be eaten raw and added to salads.
🌺 Garnish - Can be used as a garnish.
☕️ Beverage - Can be used to make teas or other drinks.
🍨 Sweet - Flowers can be sugared to make cake toppings.