~ Gorse ~ (Urex Europaeus)
Gorse flowers have an interesting slight coconut / vanilla flavor with floral hints. They can be used in wild brewing, wine, cordials, syrups & herbal teas.
I often pick the flowers to dehydrate, powder & roll my bliss balls in.
Gorse (Urex europaeus) is part of the pea/legume family. It's for that reason that Gorse was loved by the early British and originally brought over to NZ (where it went wild and is now considered a pest).
In Britain Gorse was planted in mass to enrich the soil (legume family plants are all nitrogen fixers, fixing nitrogen into the soil via their roots). It was planted in agricultural areas to improve & enrich the soil. Every part of the plant was valued, to the point that laws were passed to ensure that it wasn't overharvested (can you believe it!). The plant was well managed to prevent spreading, the young shoots were used to feed livestock, the oil rich wood as firewood, the ashes to make soaps & as a rich source of potassium to be used as a fertiliser. The roots were used to stabilise loose soil & prevent erosion.
Gorse flowers provide valuable nectar and food for bees during winter when not many other plants are flowering, and in fact it can be found flowering most of the year.
Gorse is a valued medicine in the Bach flower essences, used for those feeling hopeless to encourage hope & faith.
Please note that I do not encourage the introduction of exotic plants into NZ, or their planting or spreading.
You won't have to look to hard to find gorse in NZ, as unfortunately it is a pest in many regions & you'll find hillsides covered in it. However given it's often a pest it's usually heavily sprayed, so be careful when picking for consumption.
Always pick flowers on a warm sunny day, on the sun facing side of the plant (the damp flowers will decompose very quickly).
Gorse features in my Wet Season Foraging Guide, which can be downloaded under 'Foraging Guides'. Lots more detailed information, photos, comprehensive ID, nutritional + medicinal properties, how to prepare, recipes, folklore & history.