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Ulex europaeus, gorse, common gorse, furze or whin is an evergreen shrub in the family Fabaceae, native to western Europe from the northerly point of the United Kingdom south to Portugal, and from the westerly point of the Republic of Ireland east to Galicia in Poland and Ukraine.
It grows to 2-3 metres tall. The young stems are green, with the shoots and 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 cmlong, 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 many species of gorse, it is often 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.