Ulex europaeus

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a spiny, perennial evergreen shrub, considered noxious under the BC Weed Control Act, and thrives on sunny clearings with dry, infertile soil such as sandy or rocky areas, roadsides, fields and pastures, bluffs, cutblocks, and cutbanks. It is currently distributed in Vancouver Island, West Vancouver, some of the Gulf Islands, and Skidegate on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Gorse is a dense evergreen shrub with a single upright stem, spine-like leaves, and fragrant yellow, pea-like flowers. Seedpods are hairy and black. Gorse can grow 1-3 metres in height at maturity.

Growing rapidly for the first 15 years, gorse can live up to 45 years. Maturing seedpods explode and disperse up to 18,000 seeds per mature plant. Gorse seeds are easily distributed by ants, animals, birds, and machinery. Since gorse grows mainly by the ocean, water is a common carrier for seeds. Dense patches can hinder re-vegetation of harvested areas and recreational use of land. Gorse can also increase fire hazard as plants contain volatile oils and produce large amounts of litter. Gorse displaces native vegetation, thereby decreasing forage for wildlife and local plant biodiversity.

TIPS Factsheets


Gorse is a spiny shrub from the Mediterranean region of Western Europe. It was first introduced as an ornamental in south coastal Oregon in the late 19th century, and has since spread widely in coastal areas from California to British Columbia. Gorse forms vigorous stands that grow outward and crowd out all other vegetation causing a considerable loss of habitat.Learn more

Gallery: Gorse

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