The Gorse of Treflach

Gorse, clover and broom are all members of the pea family and are a tremendous forage for bees and butterflies.  Although gorse (or whin as it’s known in Scotland) is a heathland plant it flourishes on the poorer sloping land but is most useful in hedges where it creates a dense boundary good for ground nesting birds to nest safely as the spikes keep away predators.

Even though it flowers most of the year it seeds for only a short period when on hot summer days the pods can be heard popping and the seed flung great distances.  The seed is full of oil so is a good food source wildlife.  Gorse is very flammable and an excellent source for kindling.  In Ireland they are planted as hedges.  In Scotland young shoots used to be crushed in a whinmill for cattle feed.  Whinbark was used in the yellow dye in the production of tartan.

There is much folklore surrounding this plant, it is said when it is not in bloom - kissing is not in fashion however I can assure you whenever you get anywhere near these plants it will be painful!  While nettles give you a buzzing sensation and thistles can hurt, gorse will make you bleed. It is an invasive plant and once it gets a hold it can take over, changing the soil type for other species by fixing nitrogen.