categoryZShrubs Shrubs List 
categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 

DWARF GORSE

Ulex minor

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept month8oct

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Evergreen
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8yellow
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
contact
contactZlow
rarity
rarityZuncommon

25th Sept 2014, Trotton Common, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
A shortish Gorse, spreading more than the other gorses and growing up to 1m or so.


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
Not as robust as Western Gorse nor as large as Gorse, rather it is prostrate to erect.


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
The main spines (longer ones) are both thinner and shorter (at 0.6 to 1.5cm [up to 2.5cm] long) than either other Gorse, quite flexible and not as sharp. All three Gorse species are densely spiny, but their lengths and sharpness differ.


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
It flowers in the same months (July to October) as does Western Gorse (avoiding the earlier season of Gorse [April to June] but don't rely on this - Gorse flowers can also last longer than that). In the centre is a flower showing al 5 petals: the banner is pointing skywards at the camera, the two curved wings loosely cradle the 2 inner keels which are protruding beyond the wings.


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
Like all Gorses, the calyx is fairly long, almost concolorous with the petals, and looks like 2 petals (which surround top and bottom of the flower). In the case of Dwarf Gorse the calyx, at 6 to 10mm long, is almost as long as the flower inside! The longest petal, the banner, is 7.5 to 12.5mm long.


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
The spines have shorter branch spines coming off the sides (but then, so do all gorses).


27th July 2008, Bouldnor, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Hilary Higgins
In contrast to Western Gorse and Gorse the main spines usually lack the moderately grooved furrows of Western Gorse and the deeper furrows of Gorse, but they may have shallow striations or grooves. However, no source mentions these white hairs on the spines so maybe not all Dawrf Gorse have them (?).


25th Sept 2014, Trotton Common, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
When fully in-flower the flowers are close to the stem and in a very long spike.


3rd Dec 2012, Iping Common, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The branched soft spines can more easily be discerned on this specimen where they are more widely separated and obscured by but few flowers.


25th Sept 2014, Trotton Common, West Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson


10th Dec 2014, Stedham Common, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson


10th Dec 2014, Stedham Common, Sussex. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
Sepals and petals turning brown, revealing their veins. The grooves on the spines are only faint and shallow.


3rd Dec 2012, Iping Common, Sussex Photo: © Dawn Nelson


20th Jan 2014, Sunbank Park, Moray. Photo: © Dawn Nelson
The hairy, brown seed-pods (fruits) in amongst the persistent but now fawn-coloured petals and sepals. Fruits 6 to 8.5mm long. and opening in Spring.


Not to be semantically confused with : Ilex (Hollys) [plants with similar genus name]

Easily mistaken for : 2 other species of Gorse (Ulex) (and 2 of their hybrids)

Hybridizes with :

  • Western Gorse (Ulex gallii) to produce Ulex gallii × Ulex minor which is much rarer than is Dwarf Gorse whose rarity scores just [R]. This hybrid is only found in Dorset, and differs between the two in the lengths of the calyx (8.5mm) and the standard (11.5mm).
Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : See notes above

No relation to : Dwarf Juniper (Juniperus communis ssp. nana) Dwarf Spike-rush (Eleocharis parvula) or [plants with similar names and with spikes belonging to differing families].

It is a low growing shrub, the eastern counterpart to Western Gorse, and in the sun barely reaches higher than 30cm, but partly shaded by other plants it can reach 1m. It grows amongst heather and can be grazed by livestock since the spines are relatively soft. Growing on heaths mainly south of the Thames in the SE of England in Dorset and Wiltshire but can be discovered in Flintshire, Cumbria and Nottinhhamshire.

NOTES: to get any reliable identification, all measurements should be the arithmetic mean of 10 measurements in order to truly differentiate between the three Gorses. But there are some short-cuts. For instance, Gorse is the only one where the flowers smell of Coconut (or so the books imply).


  Ulex minor  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Ulex
Ulex
(Gorses)

DWARF GORSE

Ulex minor

Pea Family [Fabaceae]