Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Gorse is an invasive spiny shrub that forms dense impenetrable thickets.

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Gorse is an invasive spiny shrub that forms dense impenetrable thickets. It can reduce pasture carrying capacity, block access and provide shelter for pests. In National Parks and other environmental areas, gorse can compete with native vegetation and increase the risk of bushfires—as it contains flammable oils and retains dead vegetation, increasing fuel loads.

Where is it found?

Gorse is native to Europe and has become a major weed in temperate western USA, New Zealand, Chile and Hawaii.

Initially introduced to Australia during the early 1800s as a hedge and ornamental plant, gorse is now considered a problematic weed across temperate Australia. Major infestations occur throughout Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Australian
Capital Territory, with smaller infestations in southern Western Australia.

In New South Wales (NSW), gorse is generally confined to the cool, temperate parts of the state. The largest infestations occur on the Southern and Central Tablelands, including the Blue Mountains and the Lithgow area. Smaller infestations occur in the
Central West, Hawkesbury/Nepean, Illawarra, New England and Murrumbidgee areas. All known infestations in NSW are subject to either control or eradication programs.

How does it spread?

Gorse reproduces by seed. It is spread mainly by water movement and contaminated mud on vehicles, and animal movement may also contribute to dispersal.

Seeds fall mostly around the plant, although when conditions are hot and dry, seed pods burst open and shoot the seeds away from the plant. Infestations can quickly thicken and spread, particularly when growing along water courses.

Each plant can produce thousands of hard-coated seeds each year, and the seeds can live in the soil for up to 30 years. It is possible for soil seed banks to contain up to 40 000 gorse seeds per square metre. Germination takes place annually, although significant germination and survival events also occur after fire or soil disturbance.

What does it look like?

Gorse is a spiny, branched, evergreen, perennial shrub, which commonly grows 1–2.5 m in height. It is long-lived (up to 30 years) and has a deep and extensive root system.

Key identification features 

  • Stems are soft, green and hairy when young, becoming brown and woody when mature. Each stem ends in a single sharp spine. 
  • Leaves are fiercely spiny and have a waxy coating, are 6–30 mm long and 1.5 mm wide. They are dark green, stiff and stalkless. Seedlings have soft trifoliate (three-leaflet) leaves that are reduced to spines as the plant matures.
  • Flowers are bright yellow and pea-like, 15–25 mm long and have a distinct coconut scent.
  • Seed pods are 10–20 mm long, 6 mm wide and covered in fine hairs. They are oblong in shape, grey, turning to black when mature. Each pod contains 2-6 seeds.
  • Seeds are brown to green in colour, very hard, heart-shaped and up to 4 mm long.

Habitat

Gorse is highly adaptable and can withstand a variety of rainfall and soil conditions. It grows in a range of areas, including bushlands, pastures, roadsides, creek banks, along railway lines and in neglected areas such as quarries and mine sites.

Acknowledgements

Adapted from CRC Weed Management Guide (2003) Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Reviewed by: Michael Michelmore Edited by: Elissa van Oosterhout

References

References: Gouldthorpe J (2006) Gorse National Best Practice Manual–managing gorse (Ulex europaeus L.) in Australia, State of Tasmania

Hosking JR, Sainty GR, Jacobs SWL & Dellow LL (in prep) The Australian WeedBOOK

NSW DPI Gorse and brooms Primefact.

back to top

Control

Once gorse becomes established it is very difficult to eradicate due its long-lived seeds. If you suspect you have found gorse, immediately contact a local council weeds officer who will assist with identification, removal and control.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1.0 L per 100 L of water
Comments: Add Pulse (wetting agent), apply to actively growing bushes. Spray to wet all foliage.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 835 g/kg + Metsulfuron-methyl 10 g/kg (Trounce®)
Rate: 1 measured pack (173 g) in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to bushes up to 2 m high when actively growing.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors) + M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: High/Moderate


Metsulfuron-methyl 300 g/kg + Aminopyralid 375 g/kg (Stingerâ„¢)
Rate: 30 g per 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application for bushes up 2m tall. Add Pulse penetrant.
Withholding period: 3 - 56 days (see label)
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors) + I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: High/Moderate


Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 15 g per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to bushes up to two metres tall. Ensure thorough spray penetration and coverage of whole plant.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 250 or 350 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application to actively growing plants. Use higher rate on bushes over 1.5 m high or as an autumn treatment.
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 500 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application for Winter treatment
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 200 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Tordon® DSH)
Rate: 375 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application from September to March.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Grazon® DS)
Rate: 250 or 350 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application for actively growing plants. Use higher rate on bushes over 1.5 m high or as an autumn treatment.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Grazon® DS)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Handgun application for Winter treatment
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 170 or 340 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Handgun application, add non-ionic surfactant. Spring to mid-summer, higher rate on older bushes.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


back to top

Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
All of NSW Prohibition on dealings
Must not be imported into the State or sold
Central Tablelands
Exclusion zone: whole region except for the core infestation area of Bathurst Council, Blayney Council, Lithgow Council and Oberon Council
Regional Recommended Measure*
Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Core infestation area: Land managers should mitigate spread from their land.
Greater Sydney
Exclusion zone: Blue Mountains City Council area. Core infestation area: rest of region
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant or parts of the plant should not be traded, carried, grown or released into the environment. Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Core infestation area: Land managers should mitigate spread from their land.
Hunter Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Murray Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
North Coast Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
North West Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Northern Tablelands Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Riverina Regional Recommended Measure*
Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
South East
Exclusion zone: whole of region except the core infestation area of Upper Lachlan, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Yass Valley and Bega Valley councils
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfill the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

back to top


For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW Invasive Plants and Animals Enquiry Line on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2017