European gorse

European gorse

Ulex europaeus (Fabaceae)

Common Name:

European gorse

Scientific Name:

Ulex europaeus (Fabaceae)

Alternative common names:

gaspeldoring (Afrikaans)


Much branched, densely spiny shrub growing up to 1,5m high with hairy, striated young branches and green spines which are deeply furrowed, rigid and sharp pointed. The dark green leaves are distinctly jagged and pointy. It produces bright yellow, fragrant flowers in spring, followed by dark brown or black, hairy pods.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

CARA 2002 - Category 1 Hyperlink legislation NEMBA - Category 1a

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

At present, scattered localities in grasslands of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo Provinces.

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species. Dense thickets reduce the grazing potential of the land and also restrict access of domestic and wild animals. Dense stands along watercourses could reduce stream flow. This plant is also poisonous.

What does it look like?

Description: A very bushy and untidy shrub with small leaves which grows between 0,5-1,5m in height and can form a roundish profile with longer stalks jutting out of the main shrub.
Leaves: Small, strongly jagged dark green leaves.
Flowers: Bright yellow, crowded towards the ends of branchlets and fragrant, flowering in spring.
Fruit/seeds: Dark brown or black in hairy pods.

Does the plant have any uses?

Planted as an ornament and hedging, as well as a honey source.

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