Gorse smells of coconut

The ever present bright yellow flowers of Gorse may seem fairly insignificant but the smell can whisk you away to a tropical paradise.

Gorse in flower

The bright yellow flowers reach their peak in spring and summer

Gorse ( Ulex europaeus ) can be found growing along motorway embankments, colonising scrub and hillside and is a common shrub in many UK hedgerows.

Although the plant is meant to flower from midwinter to June, our generally milder winters mean that the small yellow flowers can be seen in small quantities for most of the year.

From April to June, Gorse is in full flower and attracts its pollinators by emitting a perfume which smells of coconut, which is why many people think it reminds them of sun protection lotions.  However, it would appear that not all people are able to smell its delicious fragrance due to lack of a specific receptor which is sensitive to a chemical in the flower’s perfume.

Gorse is also known by other names such as Furse or Whin and is a member of the pea family. It is very similar to Broom but is incredibly spiny, making it suitable for windbreaks and hedges.

The dense growth and spiny foliage offers a valuable home to birds and other wildlife and the flowers of the Gorse plant are edible and can be used to brew a tea, put into salads and to make wine.

Gorse can be quite invasive and is unsuitable for use in domestic gardens.

More information

RSPB Conservation – About Gorse

Gorse recipes – Find out how to make a summery cordial and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s gorse wine.

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