Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Ulex europaeus

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: generally alternate, generally compound, generally stipuled, generally entire, pinnately veined Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; or flowers 1--few in axils. Flower: generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium 0 or flat to tubular; sepals generally 5, generally fused; petals generally 5, free, fused, or lower 2 +- united into keel (see 3, Key to Groups, for banner, wings); stamens 10 or many (or [1], 5, 6, 7, 9), free or fused or 10 with 9 filaments at least partly fused, 1 (uppermost) free; pistil 1, ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, ovules 1--many, style, stigma 1. Fruit: legume, including a stalk-like base (above receptacle) or not. Seed: 1--many, often +- reniform, generally hard, smooth.
Genera In Family: +- 730 genera, 19400 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture, most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis, peanut; Glycine, soybean; Phaseolus, beans; Medicago, alfalfa; Trifolium, clovers; many orns. Note: Unless stated otherwise, fruit length including stalk-like base, number of 2° leaflets is per 1° leaflet. Upper suture of fruit adaxial, lower abaxial. Anthyllis vulneraria L. evidently a waif, a contaminant of legume seed from Europe. Laburnum anagyroides Medik., collected on Mount St. Helena in 1987, may be naturalized. Ceratonia siliqua L., carob tree (Group 2), differs from Gleditsia triacanthos L. in having evergreen (vs deciduous) leaves that are 1-pinnate (vs 1-pinnate on spurs on old stems, 2-pinnate on new stems) with 2--5(8) (vs 7--17) 1° leaflets, commonly cultivated, now naturalized in southern California. Aeschynomene rudis Benth. , Halimodendron halodendron (Pall.) Voss (possibly extirpated), Lens culinaris Medik. are agricultural weeds. Caragana arborescens Lam. only cult. Ononis alopecuroides L. , Sphaerophysa salsula (Pall.) DC. all evidently extirpated. Cercidium moved to Parkinsonia; Chamaecytisus to Cytisus; Psoralidium lanceolatum to Ladeania.
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Martin F. Wojciechowski, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: UlexView Description 

Common Name: GORSE, FURZE
Habit: Shrub, heavily armed, not gland-dotted. Stem: much-branched from base, stiffly spreading, striate; twigs becoming thorns. Leaf: simple, alternate; juvenile (on seedlings, young shoots near ground) linear; adult awl-like, stiff, becoming spines. Inflorescence: generally cluster, axillary near twig tips, few-flowered. Flower: calyx 2-lipped, membranous, yellow, persistent; petals +- equal, yellow, persistent. Fruit: +- exserted from calyx, ovate or oblong, explosively dehiscent. Seed: 1--3, with small basal outgrowth.
Etymology: (Latin: ancient name)
eFlora Treatment Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Elizabeth McClintock
Ulex europaeus L.
Stem: < 3 m; twigs hairy when young, stiff, intricately branched in age. Inflorescence: flowers 1 per axil. Flower: densely hairy; calyx 15 mm; petals < 20 mm. Fruit: 1--2 cm, densely hairy.
Ecology: Common. Disturbed places, especially old fields, pastures; Elevation: < 400 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCo, NCoRO, CCo, SCo; Distribution Outside California: native to western Europe. Flowering Time: Apr--Jul Note: Old plants flammable; twigs, leaves ending in hard tips, also similar in color, texture.
Synonyms: Ulex europaea, orth. var.
Jepson eFlora Author: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Elizabeth McClintock
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Noxious Weed listed on the CDFA Weed Pest Ratings table
View the CDFA Pest Rating page for Ulex europaeus
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Ulex europaeus

botanical illustration including Ulex europaeus

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Citation for this treatment: Martin F. Wojciechowski & Elizabeth McClintock 2012, Ulex europaeus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 18, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 18, 2024.

Ulex europaeus
click for enlargement
©2013 Neal Kramer
Ulex europaeus
click for enlargement
©2021 Neal Kramer
Ulex europaeus
click for enlargement
©2021 Neal Kramer
Ulex europaeus
click for enlargement
©2013 Neal Kramer
Ulex europaeus
click for enlargement
©2021 Neal Kramer

More photos of Ulex europaeus
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ulex europaeus:
NCo, NCoRO, CCo, SCo
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).