The bright yellow gorse flower gives a welcomed pop of colour on a grey day. This is a wonderful evergreen which supports so much wildlife. You will often see the stonechat standing at the top of a gorse bush defending their territory, they are a great place of protection to nest and to shelter. Reptiles often bask near the gorse, so they can quickly get undercover from danger. Weevils, moths and spiders live and feed on the gorse and in times gone by small embankments were made amongst the heather to create bee gardens for the bees who were collecting pollen from the heather. A lot of these embankments were covered with gorse to protect the bees from the inquisitive wildlife. Gorse is browsed by grazing stock during the winter months, providing nutrition and the flowers are edible for us too. Gorse is a member of the pea family and with its coconut aroma and almond taste they are great in salads or infused into liquid. (Gin for example! 😉) gorse flower can sooth coughs and sore throats, they aid asthma symptoms and works as an anti- inflammatory.
The gorse flowers from January to July, and can be mistaken for the Western gorse (or dwarf furze) which flowers lower to the ground from June to October.
Here in the New Forest, the gorse can become woody and invasive if left unmanaged, so during the winter months when the birds are busy feeding rather than nesting and the reptiles are hiberating underground, controlled burning of the gorse takes place and areas are burnt on a 12-15 year cycle. What an amazing plant!