Scruffy looking, prickly bush with beaming yellow flowers that smell sweet like a coconut.
Every spring to early summer (peaks in April and May) Gorse flower has apparently the power to bring grown men to tears! The golden-yellow flowers have a distinctive coconut-scented perfume, filling the air.
But did you know its native to the British Isles and western Europe? And did you know it provided fuel for firing bread ovens; was used as fodder for livestock; was bound to make floor and chimney brushes; and was used as a colourant for painting Easter Eggs?
Gorse provides amazing cover to bird, reptiles and invertebrates. They take shelter in gorse bushes as they are so dense and provide excellent protection during harsh weather. Gorse flowers are a good source of nectar for bees and butterflies.
In Celtic tradition, Gorse was one of the sacred woods burned on the Beltane bonfires, probably the one that got them started. It was a shrub associated with the spring equinox and the Celtic god of light, Lugh, doubtlessly because of its ever-blooming vibrant yellow flowers.
The flowers have a distinct vanilla-coconut aroma and are edible with an almond-like taste. They can be eaten raw on salads or pickled like capers. They have also been used to make wine and to add colour and flavour to Irish whiskey.
Another very similar yellow flower bush is Common Broom which grows in Europe, North Africa and southwest Asia. Broom is similar to Common Gorse in size, shape and flower colour, but it lacks the spines and has small, flattened leaves and larger flowers.