DistributionRead full entry
Gorse is native to central and western Europe and the British Isles, where it is an important component of native heathland vegetation (see Habitat Types and Plant Communities) ([37,45,70] and references therein). Gorse also occurs on abandoned farm land and disturbed forests in parts of its native range ( and references therein).
Introduced to the eastern U.S. as an ornamental and hedge plant in the early 1800s, gorse established outside cultivation by 1900 [49,50]. It now occurs along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Massachusetts. Gorse was introduced as an ornamental in Oregon in the late 19th century, and has since spread widely in coastal areas from California to British Columbia and on 2 Hawaiian islands ([15,26,32,37,70] and references therein). It has been reported in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills and in every coastal county in California, from Santa Cruz to Del Norte, although sparingly in southern California [33,37]. Plants database provides a state distribution map of gorse.
Gorse was introduced to Australia and New Zealand in the mid-19th century for domestic sheep forage and hedges, and by 1900 was declared a noxious weed in those countries. It now occurs in most temperate areas of the world, and is considered a weed in Chile, Iran, Italy, Poland, northwest Spain, and Tasmania ([32,37,45,70] and references therein). Much of the literature on the biology, ecology, and management of gorse comes from New Zealand.
The following lists include vegetation types in which gorse is known or thought to be potentially invasive, based on reported occurrence and biological tolerances to site conditions. Precise distribution information is limited, especially in eastern North America; therefore, these lists are not exhaustive.