It’s Gorse, of Course-Scotland’s Spiny Evergreen Shrub

A golf course in Scotland borders by a wall of yellow gorse flowers and an old man in a blue sweater with his dog playing golf.

Look, it’s a Scottish golf gorse! Ba-dum-ch.

That one comes at you straight from Mr. C. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. He’ll be here all week. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also called ‘whin,’ common flowering gorse is a large, spiny, evergreen shrub that bursts onto the scene in late winter/early spring. Though it is not uncommon to spot its blooms in Scotland year-round, April and May is when this plant really explodes in bright yellow splendor.

A field of yellow gorse.
Yellow gorse growing on a hill at Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, Scotland.
A lake, a hill, and yellow flowers.

Gorse tends to grow in rough, scrubby, uncultivated places. It is often found growing alongside roads and fields and is also commonly seen along the coast and on clifftops. Some people claim it has a distinct coconut smell, but to be honest, I have never detected that.

A woodland path next to yellow gorse and tall evergreen trees.
Yellow gorse covered cliff at Cove Bay in Scotland.

The abundance of gorse is a beautiful sight in Scotland in the spring. Just be careful if you get close to it that you don’t stab yourself on those darn hard, thorny spikes!

Yellow flowers.
Yellow flowers.


12 thoughts on “It’s Gorse, of Course-Scotland’s Spiny Evergreen Shrub

  • Conasg in Gaelic, it also has the interesting characteristic of being highly flammable even when wet. Very useful in a place as damp as Scotland.

    • I won’t even try to pronounce that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I read that gorse is so flammable that it was used to fire bread ovens. I bet that stuff is a pain in the rear for firefighters!

      • Sure does and they have to deal with out of control gorse fires every summer. I’ve heard it said that it can spontaneously combust in hot dry weather but I find that a bit far fetched to be honest. It’s so beautiful when in bloom though, you may remember a stretch of moorland on the back road from the local shop to Inverness and it is an absolute sea of yellow. So stunning I have to remind myself I’m meant to be looking at the road and not the flora and fauna!

  • Great post, Wendy. Gorse stretching across a wild landscape is indeed an imposing sight, as your beautiful pictures show. I think I know what you mean about the coconut smell, I remember it now, and I guess it’s kind of similar. I feel sorry for those golfers if they lose a ball in the bushes though! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you. Does gorse grow in Wales as well? I guess playing golf with gorse around makes one a better golfer. It’s good incentive to hit the ball in the right direction!

  • Your right, it really comes into its own in spring. It does smell of coconut but sometimes just sniffing the flower means falling into the thorns! Bees like it too. X

  • Thanks so much for following my blog! The gorse was blooming when we were in Scotland but I didnโ€™t know what it was. Thank you for identifying it!

    • You are very welcome! Yes, the gorse is everywhere in the spring. It’s so beautiful.

      I live in Virginia and always love to read about interesting places to visit in nearby states. I look forward to reading about your travel adventures. ๐Ÿ™‚

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