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Dwarf Gorse

Ulex minor

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Heathland, rocky places, scrub, seaside, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow, pea-like flowers. Similar to other species of gorse but the flowers are smaller and fewer than most species. Flowers measure up to 1.5cm across.
The fruit is a hairy pod (legume), up to 0.5 inches long.
The leaves are small spines, or scales. Dwarf Gorse has shorter, weaker spines than other UK gorse species.
Other Names:
Dwarf Furze, Western Dwarf Gorse.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ulex minor, also known as dwarf gorse or western dwarf gorse, is a species of gorse that is native to western Europe. Like other species of Ulex, it is an evergreen shrub that is known for its thick spines and bright yellow flowers. However, it is smaller in size than other gorse species, growing to a height of 60 cm. It forms dense thickets that can be invasive in some areas, displacing native vegetation. It is commonly found in rocky, coastal habitats, and can tolerate a wide range of soil types. Control methods are similar to the other gorse species, cutting, grazing, and chemical control using herbicides.


Dwarf Gorse, also known as Ulex minor, is a small shrub that belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe and can be found in a variety of habitats including heathlands, moors, and grasslands. Despite its small size, Dwarf Gorse is an important plant that plays a crucial role in the ecosystem.


Dwarf Gorse typically grows to be about 30-60cm tall and has a spread of around 1m. It has thin, wiry stems that are covered in sharp, spiky leaves. The leaves are evergreen and are a dark green color. In the spring, Dwarf Gorse produces bright yellow flowers that are around 1-2cm in diameter. These flowers are highly fragrant and attract a variety of pollinators including bees and butterflies.

Ecological Importance

Dwarf Gorse is an important plant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it provides a valuable source of food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. The flowers are an important source of nectar for bees and butterflies, while the spiky foliage provides shelter for small animals such as birds and rodents. Additionally, Dwarf Gorse is a nitrogen-fixing plant, which means that it is able to convert nitrogen from the air into a form that can be used by other plants. This makes it an important component of many ecosystems as it helps to enrich the soil and support other plant species.

Cultural Significance

Dwarf Gorse has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments including rheumatism, gout, and kidney problems. The flowers were also used to make a tea that was believed to have a calming effect and help to alleviate anxiety.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Dwarf Gorse has also played an important role in folklore and mythology. In Celtic mythology, the plant was associated with the sun god Lugh and was believed to have protective properties. It was also said to bring good luck and prosperity to those who carried it.

Conservation Status

Despite its ecological and cultural importance, Dwarf Gorse is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, like many plant species, it is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. In some areas, Dwarf Gorse is also at risk from overgrazing by livestock, which can prevent the plant from reproducing.

More Information about Dwarf Gorse

Dwarf Gorse is a hardy plant that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. It is able to tolerate poor soil, drought, and even salt spray, which makes it a valuable component of coastal ecosystems. Additionally, the plant is able to regenerate quickly after being burned or grazed, which helps to ensure its survival in areas that are subject to natural disturbances.

One of the unique features of Dwarf Gorse is its spiky foliage, which provides a natural defense against grazing animals. The leaves are tough and leathery, and are covered in sharp spines that make them difficult to eat. This adaptation helps to ensure that the plant is able to survive in areas where grazing pressure is high.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Dwarf Gorse is also valued for its ornamental qualities. The plant is often used in gardens and landscaping, where it is prized for its bright yellow flowers and evergreen foliage. Dwarf Gorse is particularly well-suited to rock gardens and other dry, sunny locations where other plants may struggle to thrive.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Dwarf Gorse also has practical uses in agriculture and industry. The plant's tough, spiky foliage makes it an effective barrier plant, which can be used to prevent erosion and protect crops from wind and wildlife damage. Dwarf Gorse is also used in the production of tannins, which are used in the leather industry, and its wood can be used for fuel and charcoal.

While Dwarf Gorse is a hardy and adaptable plant, it can become invasive in some areas. In particular, it can outcompete native plant species in heathlands and other habitats, leading to a loss of biodiversity. As a result, efforts are underway in some regions to control Dwarf Gorse populations and prevent it from spreading into sensitive areas.

Dwarf Gorse also has potential as a source of biofuel. The plant contains high levels of oil, which can be extracted and used as a renewable source of energy. This could help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In terms of cultivation, Dwarf Gorse is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is easy to propagate from seed or cuttings. However, care should be taken when handling the plant, as the spines on its leaves can be painful and difficult to remove if they become lodged in the skin.

Overall, Dwarf Gorse is a valuable and versatile plant that has many important ecological, cultural, and practical uses. While it can become invasive in some areas, its ability to provide food and shelter for wildlife, enrich the soil, and even serve as a source of biofuel make it an important component of many ecosystems. With proper management and conservation efforts, Dwarf Gorse can continue to contribute to the natural world and benefit human society for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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