Updated: May 31, 2018
Ulex euraeus Other names: Furze, Whin, Broom, Prickly Broom, Ruffet, Frey, GossRuling Planet: SunElement: FireOgham: OnnSabbat: Spring EquinoxAssociated Deities: Jupiter, Onniona, Spring Goddesses, Sun Gods, ThorMagical Properties: Money, Protection, Luck, Positivity, Romance
This spiny, woody shrub is found growing on heathland, grassland, open woodland and Motorway embankments. It is covered in what seems to be spines but are actually older leaves. Its bright yellow flowers are rich in pollen and nectar, providing a valuable food for insects and its dense impenetrable branches make it a safe shelter for birds and other wildlife.
Gorse is a member of the Fabaceae family, it blooms from Spring until Autumn and often later in the year, hence the saying: ' When gorse is out of bloomKissing's out of season.'
The common name comes from the Anglo Saxon 'gorst' meaning a wasteland or uncultivated area. Gorse is classed as an invasive plant. On hot sunny days, when the seed pods are ripe, they explode, releasing thousands of tiny seeds. It can quickly displace other native plants.
Gorse burns easily and was used in the past as a valuable fuel, especially by bakers in their ovens. The young shoots in Spring were used as a nutritious food for grazing livestock. The golden flowers produce a beautiful dye and the leaf buds have been used as a substitute for tea.
Gorse does not have many medicinal uses, but the Bach flower remedy can be used by those who have given up hope or feel that they are beyond help. The Greenman essence of Gorse is used to ease frustration, restlessness and jealousy, promoting emotional security and feelings of deep inner joy.
Gorse is Onn in the Ogham and Glennie Kindred states in' The Tree Ogham' that it is the epitome of a good harvest in your life, linking fulfilment and fruitfulness in the inner and outer worlds.
Gorse flowers can be used for decorations at the Spring Equinox. They can also be used to make a flower wine or tea which can be drank in the ritual cup or added to the ritual bath.The flowers are high in protein and can be eaten raw in salads and the buds can be pickled in vinegar and eaten like capers.
In late 19th century Cornwall it was the custom to hang Gorse over your door on May morning. The member of the house who did this claimed bread and cream and a bowl of rich milk for breakfast. The objective was to get the flowers in place before the farmer rose from his bed.
On the Isle of Man, people believed that witches and dragons hid in Gorse and after sunset on May Day they would set fire to it to drive them out.
There is an old custom in some parts of the UK to add gorse flowers to the bridal bouquet to help keep the romance alive. It would be a lovely herb to be used in Handfastings and any magical workings for love and romance.
The flowers can be carried as a luck talisman, but in some areas it was said to bring bad luck if brought into the house. They are also said to attract gold which makes them an excellent ingredient for money spells and workings.
In the book 'Discovering the folklore of plants by Margaret Baker', it states that a Mrs W.D. Stanley, wife of a member of parliament visited an old woman in Anglesey in about 1810 and found her in bed enclosed in a mound of gorse, which she said, 'kept the fairies from plaguing her, spilling her tea and souring her milk'. Another victim of such pranks feared the chimney as an entry point and when there was no fire in the Summer she 'stuffed a bundle of gorse up it, 'to keep the powers out'.
Hang a bunch of gorse above your front door for protection or add to protective pouches.
Gorse Flower Tea
4 tbsp fresh gorse flowers
1 pint boiling water
Honey to taste Crush the flowers slightly and add to a teapot. Add the boiling water and infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten if desired.