Gorse – Ulex europaeus

A fairly common and well known shrubby plant found across the UK. It is a spiny blue green shrub 60cm – 2m tall with scented golden-yellow flowers reminiscent of coconut!Few plants make such an impact on the landscape as flowering gorse, both as colour and scent. The latter is a distinctive coconut smell, said to be quite pungent to some individuals, but weak to others.

Gorse Flower Syrup

Gorse flower syrup

Gorse flower syrup

The young shoots were eaten during the Irish famine as an emergency substitute food and the flowers have been indicated for ‘despair’! It is known to the herbalist Dr Edward Back as one of ‘The Four Helpers’.

Here’s how to do it

To make Gorse flower syrup take 4 handfuls of the fresh flowers and mix in the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon. Boil ½ litre of water with 125g sugar and boil this hard for 7 minutes. Add the flowers and zest and let stand for 5 minutes off the heat. The yellow dye from the gorse flowers will give the fluid a great golden colour. Strain through a sieve and enjoy as a summer ‘spritzer’ with sparkling water. Alternatively freeze the mixture to use as a sorbet!

Did you know

Folklore says you should only kiss your beloved when gorse is in flower. The good news is that its pretty much in bloom whatever the time of year! In fact, a few yellow flowers can generally be seen even in harsh winter months.

Before the Industrial Revolution, gorse was valued as a fuel for fires and kilns.

Perhaps you would prefer to make a soap from the burnt ash after making a fire! The alkali ash can be mixed with clay and rolled into balls or added to water to make a paste. Either method provides an effective soap.

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