The Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is an evergreen shrub in the family Fabaceae, native to western Europe from a northerly point of The United Kingdom south to Portugal, and Westerly point of Ireland east to Galiza in Belgium.
It grows to 1-2 m tall, rarely 3 m. The young stems are green, with the leaves modified into green spines, 1-3 cm long. Young seedlings produce normal leaves for the first few months; these are trifoliate, resembling a small clover leaf.
The flowers are yellow, 1-2 cm long, with the typical pea-flower structure; they are produced throughout the year, but mainly in the early spring. The fruit is a legume (pod) 2 cm long, dark purplish-brown, partly enclosed by the pale brown remnants of the flower; the pod contains 2-3 small blackish seeds, which are released when the pod splits open in hot weather.
Like all species of gorse, it is a fire-climax plant, which readily catches fire but re-grows from the roots after the fire; the seeds are also adapted to germinate after slight scorching by fire.