Gorse

Native to Europe, gorse is a dense, thorny shrub that is now a major agricultural weed in Tasmania and parts of Victoria. Gorse is one of Australia's worst weeds because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts. Gorse thickets increase fire risk, provide shelter for pests, and dramatically reduce pasture stocking rates.

Queensland currently has no known wild populations of gorse. However, gorse is occasionally grown as a garden plant and could escape cultivation to become a serious pest in cooler parts of southern Queensland.

Gorse is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Ulex europaeus

Other names

Common gorse, European gorse, furze, golden gorse, gorse, Irish furze, whin

Description

  • Dense, thorny shrub, 2-4m tall.
  • Flowers are fragrant, pea-shaped, bright yellow, 2-2.5cm long.
  • Leaves are dark green, narrow, spine-like, rigid,1-3cm long and 1.5mm wide.
  • Pods are egg-shaped, oblong, 10-25mm long, 6-8mm wide, turn dark brown or black as they mature.
  • Seeds are green to brown, smooth and shiny, about 3mm long.
  • Stems are ridged, hairy, armed with many spines to 5cm long.

Habitat

  • Found in national parks and other bushland areas.
  • Prefers hillsides, waterways, roadsides, railways, pastures, grasslands, open woodlands, forests, disturbed sites, coastal environs, waste areas and forest margins in temperate regions.
  • Occasionally found in cooler, upland areas of subtropical regions.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Not yet recorded in Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers throughout the year, mainly July-October and March-May.
  • Seeds germinate mainly in autumn and spring to mid-summer.

Affected animals

Grazing stock; Cattle

Impacts

Environmental

  • Provides shelter for pests such as rabbits.
  • Increases bushfire risk due to flammability.

Economic

  • Forms dense thickets and dramatically reduces stocking rates.
  • Costs millions of dollars annually to manage.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by animals, in contaminated soil (e.g. during road-making, grading and other soil-moving activities), in mud, by water, and in dumped garden waste.

Control

Herbicide control

Legal requirements

  • Gorse is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information