Step 2: Get to Know Gorse

First we get to know our Weed.

Botanical Name: Ulex europeans
Common Name: Gorse
Family: Fabaceae

Gorse is a very invasive plant happy in just about any soil, it thoroughly enjoys full sun and detests and dies in shade of any kind. The seeds are released by heat (both hot sun and fire) and are catapulted from the plant 2-3 meters, and remain viable in the soil for what some predict is 70 years.

As a member of the Fabaceae family (Nitrogen fixers, which include common plants like the garden pea) it is my understanding that Gorse does have the ability to capture and use atmospheric Nitrogen which is ultimately released to the soil and other plants.

This Nitrogen fixing capacity would also tend to be confirmed by recent research also linking Gorse to assisting in the destruction of our water ways by leeching Nitrogen directly in to waterways] Leeching Nitrogen directly in to waterways)'

Nitrogen is one of the Macro nutrients that all living things require in order to make proteins
(Plants get it directly from the soil, animals via their food.) Nitrogen in particularly promotes lush green growth in plants. (Note the N.P.K on most fertiliser - represents Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium the three macro nutrients)

Introduced in to New Zealand as a hedge / ornamental plant from a cooler climate it soon ran rife in NZ warmer climate. The sharp spines forming the foliage ensure it remains essentially unpalatable to most animals, while its high viability seed and enjoyment of clear sun ensure it spreads and re grows well in bare landscapes

How not to effectively get rid of the Gorse plant!

It appears to be common practice to in the urge for a fast out come to first spray and then burn the foliage, the gorse just loves us for it assisting with its life cycle;

First we spray it - and generally succeed in also removing any other herbaceous plants that may be able to compete after we remove the shade from the gorse bush above it.
Then we burn the dry gorse foliage, they heat of which happily release the fire proof seed and flick it all around in to the soil that we make even more acceptable by a nice coating of ash as mulch. The seed are long viable so have no trouble having a rest and then popping up again next summer.
<p>Hi Waiomio</p><p>I know nothing about hemp sorry... but what you need is a plant that will grow fast and shade the gorse for at least the life of the seed, ( approx 70 years) as it can sit there dominant the soil ready for open sky /sun to activate it.</p><p>this is the reason native bush is the best option -using first a fast growing sun cover followed by slow growing canopy plants to take over from the first when it dies.. but the moment there is full sun hitting the ground then the seed can potentially get going again.</p>
I know this from growing up in the valley tried to tell the adults this but they didn't want to know. The gorse is over meter tall now. Can I plant a hemp canopy to eradicate thee gorse?
This instructable is absolutely fantastic. We've just bought a rural property with gorse and I previously had absolutely zero idea what to do. This instructable is clear, logical and encourages understanding and empowerment - really great. <br> <br>I do have one question though, in that the gorse bushes on my property are predominantly on a bank with our back lawn at the base of the bank. The back lawn has tiny bits of gorse growing throughout (which the dogs hate!). I started grubbing it out, but then wondered if I was fighting a losing battle if it was being propagated from the larger bushes. <br> <br>Is it therefore prudent to cut back some of the large bushes for the sake of my lawn, or recommended just to wait it out?
ah one of my old stamping grounds - lived in welly for 10 years:-) how big is the bank area? is there mature gorse over the boundary also? - any kind of shade you can put over the gorse will take it out and slow or stop the re growth... of course your ideal is the tea tree's inter planted with the gorse - with extra care and attention lavished on them - ie: summer mulching, weeding and watering you may be able to get a fast tea tree cover ( ask the nursery experts on that one but in ideal conditions i have seen tea tree put on amazing height in a couple of years - ...
The bank is around 1500m2. The boundary on this problem side is our driveway so we are able to control it. Now to find some Manuka! Thanks again for your advice.
recommend you get hold of &quot; the propagation of NewZealand Native Plants, Lawrie metcalf, 2007 isbn:978-1-86962-131-5&quot; <br> <br>its explains how to make simply propagtion houses, and the various methods useful for each plant type... or of course if you have cash, and no interest in propagation then find a wholesale nursery in the wellington area ( always get stock from as close to the area you are planting ) Native plants rarely need much care other than perhaps a handful of magamp a little distance below the root ball - and a little water occasionally if that... as mentioned in instructable its often a good thing to go for as stroll in a naturally regenerating area and you will note how things work.. and which plants work the best.... the eastern hills of lower hut used to be a great example...
Thanks! I'll check it out :)
hey , <br> <br>thanks for your comments ;-) <br> <br>and in answer to your question - yes you are pretty much fighting a loosing battle until the gorse up the bank has been suffocated by natives... <br>This is because gorse propels its seeds out of the seed capsules during summer ( listen for &quot;crack&quot; in a gorse patch in the height of summer;-) ) <br> <br>every flower you see has a bunch of seeds at the base to be donated to your lawn, and the other problem is that the seeds are said to remain viable un germinated up to 70years:-) <br> <br>so yes in the short term the only thing you could do would be to keep the gorse cut back enough that no flowers are showing to disperse in the heat - although that wont stop the trunks re sprouting madly and all the seeds already in the ground going - whooooohooo - sunlight at last - woosh.... <br> <br>The best answer for your lawn is a nice bank of native bush ... and this is good for the bank also - keeping it moist but stopping it from sliding away;-) <br> <br>of course grubbing is always way better for you then going to the gym,... well apart from your sore back....? <br> <br>hope that answers the question - are you in Newzealand?
Sigh - I feared as much! It's so tempting to attack the gorse with my new and shiny brush cutter, but I will practice restraint. :) <br> <br>Yes, we're in Wellington on the edge of the Belmont Regional Park.
I live in northland nz too and have been looking at this part of bare, unhealthy, gorse infected land on my little lifestyle block and now feel like I have a plan, so thank you. I do have two questions though, do you plant all the over colonists, sub canopy and canopy plants at the same time or do you wait for each layer to become somewhat established first? It is also now spring, should I try and start now or wait until next winter?
opps forgot to answer the second bit - i would recommend late winter early spring would be a good time to plant - so the plants still get some rain and a chance to get some roots down before it drys out. <br><br>having said that if you currently have a good stock of seedling tea tree in pots or you have access to seedling tea tree in the ground you could transplant, and were able to get the ground work done pronto - then id say go for it just with tea tree, even consider seed broadcast... they may need watering if this summer comes on strong...<br><br>
Thanks for your reply. I had a good look over all the gorse the other day and do love the plan of having regenerative (if that's a word) bush on some of the land, especially the steeper bits to kill off the gorse. Much more fun to play in. Apparently there used to be pines, hence the clay and nutrient depletion.the gorse is in one main patch, (the part I would like to regenerate) however some other bits are popping up here and there and I think that I may need to spray those bits. The other thing too is that I see all the flower heads (which are dangerously beautiful) and don't want them to spread all over the place while I get some seedlings going and wait for next year. Any ideas? If you are up this way and would like to have a look and give some advice that would be simply wonderful. <br>
hey there,<br><br>Northland! - where i first discovered this method:-) - where abouts are you exactly?(i am currently in Auckland - could be up for a site visit in my holidays coming up...)<br><br>well i guess the ideal would be to do it tier by tier but so far we haven't simply because it takes time - and that would spread it out even further - so every project completed so far has been every thing at once (bar perhaps the canopy plants which tier which would benefit from some surrounds establishment) - with the emphasis on the The New Zealand Tea Tree, Manuka Leptospermum scoparium <br> and Kanuka Leptospermum ericoides) <br><br>i should mention though - don't be mislead that gorse infected land is unhealthy - quite the opposite given the nitrogen fixing ability of gorse - that's why its such a great nursery for the natives<br>
The last comment has a typo which may confuse some people. As a legume Gorse has root nodules which harbour nitrogen fixing bacteria (in a mutualistic arrangement). The excess nitrogen compond are then leached INTO the soil and promote growth of other plants.
You have certainly put the <em>instruct</em> in <em>instruct-</em>ables!<br /> I live on the other side of the globe, as far north as you are south, where it is as cold as you are hot, and I've never even seen a gorse bush -- and yet this instructable is 100% relevant for me. Your careful explanation of the process gives me the insight I need to analyze and work with the plants growing in ary area, even one as different as mine. Thanks for the giving us the <em>why</em> with the <em>how</em>.<br /> <br />
wonderful thanks:-) nice to get your feed back - and yep it sure took some writing but i am glad you find it useful... love to hear about any applications you discover for the same method.. mindunique@gmail.com<br /> <br />
As the manager of Crown land, scenic and historic reserves, in northern New Zealand some thirty years ago, I introduced this method of gorse suppression to promote the regrowth of native flora. One site in particular, Marsden Cross Historic Reserve in the Bay of Islands, demonstrates the efficacy of this method. The site, about 30 acres of steep hillside acquired from the adjacent landowner was almost entirely covered in gorse. The adjacent farm manager argued that we should use herbicides to clear the gorse and, in fact, there were helicopter incursions on the upper slopes when the pilot formed the habit of emptying his tanks inside the reserve. After the reserve was completely fenced and feral goats eradicated, the neighbouring landowner (against the wishes of his farm manager) finally agreed to allow the Crown to pursue a policy of natural regeneration and gorse suppression. An inspection of the reserve by the writer in 2003 conclusively proves the effectiveness of this technique. Leptospermum species has topped and replaced gorse over almost all of the reserve and a variety of natives thrive in a sheltered stream bed. No planting was carried out on the upper slopes, but native species were planted by the sea shore and in the stream valley. All now appear to be thriving. In other reserves we did used the method described by agatornz of cutting a narrow grid and inserting ti tree and other natives plants. This approach also proved efficacious.
Is it true that gorse seeds can stay alive for up to 20 years before germination.
yes actually its my understanding that he seeds are capable for germinating some 70 years afer landing in the soil... just proves burning it is a waste of time as i say in the instructable!
Where I lived in Scotland the gorse was very rampant and most farmers would burn it off as it has lots of dead growth inside and burn very well. It would always grow back though after a short while.
yes totally, given that burning not only spreads the fire proof high viablity seed, but creates a rich organic fertiliser of ash and nutrients, couldnt be better for re growth - almost as if that plant designs it that way! ha ha ha
So is the following a summary of your Instructable Plant shade plants and trees around gorse to kill it.
yes. Gorse is not shade tolerant. The point i am making however is that the traditional control methods tend to promote gorse, rather then wipe it out. Additionally the Gorse plant is (correct me i am wrong) a Nitrogen fixing plant which also leeches Nitrogen in the soil, a wonderful wind, light and to some extent defence for young plants which will eventually grow over and kill it

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