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A world of gorse: persistence of Ulex europaeus in managed landscapes


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Broadfield, N and McHenry, MT ORCID: 0000-0002-4393-8635 2019 , 'A world of gorse: persistence of Ulex europaeus in managed landscapes' , Plants, vol. 8, no. 11 , pp. 1-21 , doi: 10.3390/plants8110523.

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Gorse (Ulex europeus L.) is a woody legume and invasive woody weed that has been introduced to temperate pastoral landscapes worldwide. Despite the apparent cosmopolitan distribution of Gorse across much of the temperate agroecological landscapes of the world, research and practice pertaining to the management of Gorse has been largely constrained to single-treatments, regions or timeframes. Gorse eradication has been widely attempted, with limited success. Using the PRISMA method, and a quasi-metanalytical approach, we reviewed the seminal ~299 papers pertaining to Gorse management. We identified (a) the ecological characteristics of the species that predispose Gorse to behaving invasively, and (b) the success of management actions (from a plant ecological life history perspective) in reducing weed vigour and impact. A broad ecological niche, high reproductive output, propagule persistence and low vulnerability to pests allow for rapid landscape exploitation by Gorse throughout much the world. Additionally, there are differences in flowering duration and season in the northern and Southern Hemisphere that make gorse particularly pernicious in the latter, because Gorse flowers twice per year. The implications of these life history stages and resistance to environmental sieves after establishment are that activity and efficacy of control is more likely to be favourable in juvenile stages. Common approaches to Gorse control, including herbicides, biological controls and fire have not been ubiquitously successful, and may in fact target the very site resources – sward cover, soil stability, hydrological balance – that, when degraded, facilitate Gorse invasion. Ongoing seedling regeneration presents difficulties if eradication is a goal, but facilitated competition may reduce costs via natural suppression. Mechanical methods of Gorse removal, though highly successful, induce chronic soil erosion and land degradation and should hence be used sparingly.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Broadfield, N and McHenry, MT
Keywords: woody weeds, fire, grazing, disturbance, cost-benefit, mycoherbicides, phytophagous
Journal or Publication Title: Plants
Publisher: MDPIAG
ISSN: 2223-7747
DOI / ID Number: 10.3390/plants8110523
Copyright Information:

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open accessarticle distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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