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GORSE or WHIN : Ulex europaeus

Gorse is that extremely prickly stuff that obstructs your progress when out walking on the muir.

Gorse is that extremely pretty bright yellow stuff that is one of the first plants to flower on the muir. 

Common gorse is a resilient widespread shrub which is widespread across our muirlands and fields. It flowers between January and June, though it’s at its peak in April and May. While an evergreen shrub, it has the tendency to go very dry within its older lower growth. This is highly combustible and attracts delinquents with lighters. However it always recovers.

it is not to be confused with the two other species, western gorse and dwarf gorse which are very similar. However in West Dunbartonshire you are going encournter common gorse.  It goes by many other names across the country, the most well known of which are perhaps furze and whin. A low hill just beyond Balloch towards Boturich is known as Whinny Hill.

Officially called Gorse, but generally known as Whin in Scotland, Whin is also the 17th letter of the ancient Celtic alphabet. In Argyll and elsewhere Whin is associated with Cailleach, or the Goddess of Winter in the old Celtic tradition. It is an extremely hardy evergreen flowering shrub with sharp and ubiquitous spines all along its stems.

We may find gorse challenging, but many birds and insects actually take advantage of its spikes and nest in it.

The Woodland Trust tell us that according to folklore, when gorse is out of bloom, you should not kiss your loved ones. But, as the different species of gorse bloom throughout the year, it can usually be found year-round and the restrictions are not too formidable.

it adds that as gorse’s flowers are so fragrant, they are the perfect addition to salads or steeped in fruit tea.

Two examples of gorse on Carman Muir.

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HIUGHLAND TITLES : https://www.highlandtitles.com/flower/gorse/#:~:text=Officially%20called%20Gorse%2C%20but%20generally%20known%20as%20Whin,sharp%20and%20ubiquitous%20spines%20all%20along%20its%20stems.

WALK HIGHLANDS : https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/gorse-the-yellowest-of-flowers/

WOODLAND TRUST : https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/plants/wild-flowers/gorse/ & https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/woods/whinny-hill-wood/

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