4 November 2004
Image: Chris Gomersall
Gorse scrub occurs wherever soils are light and free draining, in areas that are relatively free from severe frosts. Gorse is very important for birds and for invertebrates. However, it does have the potential to encroach onto otherwise valuable land.
Gorse is relatively short lived (up to 25 years), but with careful management, its vigour and value for wildlife can be maintained.
There are three species of gorse in Britain. Common gorse Ulex europaeus is the most familiar and widespread, and has the most robust growth character. Western gorse Ulex gallii is frequent in the western half of Britain and occurs along the East Anglian coast; it is relatively low growing yet robust.
Dwarf gorse Ulex minor is a low growing, sprawling shrub that is a relatively uncommon component of the heathland shrub layer in central southern and eastern Britain.
These pages discuss the first two species together, whereas dwarf gorse is best treated as part of the heathland dwarf shrub community.