That smell? Like suntan lotion or a Pina Colada? That is gorse. When I opened the car windows, the fragrance was everywhere.

Gorse is a large dark green shrub with prickly stems and bright yellow flowers.

Gorse is a large dark green shrub with prickly stems and bright yellow flowers.

Gorse is a large dark green shrub with prickly stems. In the spring, when I visited Ireland, bright yellow gorse flowers were blooming everywhere. I had never seen it before. I wanted to bring some seeds home to plant it around my house but was warned against it.

Gorse grows together into impenetrable thorny thickets.

Gorse grows together into impenetrable thorny thickets.

Gorse is native to western and central Europe. It produces a lot of seeds that can live for years until they have the right conditions to sprout. The seeds are too heavy to be blown by the wind. They fall no further than six feet or so from the parent plant. They grow together to create an absolutely impenetrable thorny thicket. The seeds may not blow far, but they are spread further by birds, insects or people.

Bright yellow gorse flowers blooming everywhere in Spring

Bright yellow gorse flowers blooming everywhere in Spring

Gorse is not native to the United States, but has become an invasive in some areas.

Gorse was introduced around California 100 years ago. By the 1950s it had spread throughout northern California, Washington and Oregon. It is now even found in southern California and along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Massachusetts.

You can buy Gorse seeds on eBay, but it is just not a good idea. If you really want Gorse in your yard, you can buy some fruitless hybrids that do not make seeds.

Gorse Thickets around Trim Castle

Gorse Thickets around Trim Castle

Gorse near Doolin, Ireland

Gorse near Doolin, Ireland

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