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.

Gorse is occasionally grown as a garden plant and could escape cultivation to become a serious pest in cooler parts of southern Queensland.

You must manage the impacts of gorse on your land.

You must not give away, sell or release gorse into the environment.

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

  • Visit the Weeds Australia website and click on the distribution tab to access the distribution map.

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 category 3 invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • You must not give away, sell, or release into the environment. Penalties may apply.
  • You must take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise the biosecurity risks associated with dealing with gorse under your control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government agency must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on gorse. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local council for more information.

Further information