Ulex europaeus
Common name: 
Common Gorse
Irish Gorse
EW-leks eu-ro-PIE-us
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Evergreen shrub, exceptionally spiny, dense, 2-10 ft (0.6-2 m) tall, main stems erect or ascending, branches green, angled, spine tipped.  Leaves simple, to 1.3 cm long, linear, sharply pointed, or reduced to spines.  Flowers showy golden-yellow, marked red at base, about 2 cm.  Fruit a flat pod, about 2 cm long, densely covered with long hairs; eject its seeds.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 6         Native to western Europe, but now naturalized in Oreagon.
  • Considered an invasive weed, it is extensively naturalized in central Europe, Australia and New Zealand (its "worst weed").  It has established itself along the Atlantic Coast of the U.S., from Massachusetts to Virginia.  It was planted as an ornamental in a few coastal areas of Oregon and California, and now it is found along the Pacific Coast of Washington, Oregon, south to Santa Cruz County in California.  Its range continues to spread.  It colonizes disturbed and "waste" areas and low-nutrient sites, in part because it fixes nitrogen from the air.
  • Ulex: Latin name for spiny shrubs.  europaeus: of Europe
  • Especially common along Oregon's south coast.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, spring flowering

    plant habit, spring flowering

  • flowers and spines

    flowers and spines

  • flowers


  • leaves and spines

    leaves and spines

  • plant habit, after flowering

    plant habit, after flowering

  • after flowering

    after flowering

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer