Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

WEED ALERT: REGIONALLY PROHIBITED WEED
If you see this plant contact your council weeds officer, the NSW Invasive Plants & Animals Enquiry Line 1800 680 244 or email weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Profile

Impact

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.

Distribution

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.

Distribution map

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.

Description

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.

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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


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Legal requirements

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

Area Class Legal requirements
Albury 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Bayside 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant only in the area formerly known as Rockdale Council
Bayside 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed only in the area formerly known as Botany Bay Council
Bega Valley 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Bellingen 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Blue Mountains 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Burwood 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Cabonne 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Camden 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Campbelltown 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Canada Bay 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Canterbury-Bankstown 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Central Coast 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Cessnock 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Cootamundra-Gundagai 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant only in the area formerly known as Gundagai Shire Council
Cowra 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Cumblerland 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Dungog 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Eurobodalla 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Fairfield 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Federation 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant only in the area formerly known as Corowa Shire Council
Georges River 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Glen Innes Severn 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Goulburn Mulwaree 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Greater Hume 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Hawkesbury River County Council 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Hornsby 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Hunters Hill 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Illawarra District Weeds Authority 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Inner West 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Junee 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Kempsey 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Ku-ring-gai 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Lake Macquarie 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Lane Cove 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Liverpool 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Maitland 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Mid-Western Regional 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Mosman 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
New England Tablelands County Council 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Newcastle 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
North Sydney 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Northern Beaches 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Orange 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Parramatta 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Port Stephens 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Randwick 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Ryde 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Shoalhaven 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Snowy Monaro Regional 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant only in the areas formerly known as Bombala Council and Snowy River Shire Council
Snowy Monaro Regional 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed only in the area formerly known as Cooma-Monaro Shire Council
Snowy Valleys 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Southern Slopes County Council 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Strathfield 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Sutherland 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Sydney 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Tenterfield 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Upper Hunter County Council 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Upper Lachlan 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Upper Macquarie County Council 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Wagga Wagga 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Waverley 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Western Plains Regional 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant only in the area formerly known as Wellington Council
Willoughby 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Wingecarribee 2 Regionally Prohibited Weed
The plant must be eradicated from the land and that land must be kept free of the plant
Wollondilly 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed
Woollahra 3 Regionally Controlled Weed
The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed

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Reviewed 2016