Mention gorse to a farmer in New Zealand and he’ll curse and swear and grab the nearest strong weed-killer. It’s considered the country’s worst agricultural weed, and millions of dollars have been spent trying to eradicate it. Obviously, then, it is not a New Zealand native but was introduced in the very early days of colonial settlement for use as hedges and windbreaks. Little did those early settlers realise how invasive the plant would become in New Zealand’s temperate climate or how much angst they would cause their descendants.
So, you will, I hope, forgive me for not waxing lyrical about the joys of gorse in my newly adopted country of Wales. Yes, I recognise it has a very pretty flower, and I also acknowledge that it is a useful source of pollen when very few other plants are flowering. Apparently, the scent of its flowers reminds people of the smell of coconut – I admit I haven’t given them the sniff test. And I have read that gorse provides shelter and a good nesting habitat for a range of birds, including the stonechat, yellowhammer and linnet. But, in this instance, I just can’t set my heritage aside – to my eye, it’s a weed, and always will be!