Isle of Mull – pt. 5

Beauty with a thorny attitude

In this final installment as your tour guide of beloved Mull, there’s one thing that I cannot overlook from our visit to Mull and really all of Scotland: Gorse!

Ulex (commonly known as gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae. The genus comprises about 20 species of thorny evergreen shrubs in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. The species are native to parts of western Europe and northwest Africa, with the majority of species in Iberia.

The first thing that you do notice about gorse is the intense yellow flowers, which are in bloom nearly year-round.  When lit by sunlight, these bushes create beautiful patches of yellow across the landscape, which can stand out against a blue sky (yes, we found plenty of blue skies in Scotland)

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Gorse and the Landscape of Mull

Gorse is closely related to the brooms (Scottish Broom is a very hard plant, that we have in our backyard in New England), and like them, has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions. However it differs in its extreme thorniness, the shoots being modified into branched thorns 1–4 centimetres (0.4–1.6 in) long, which almost wholly replace the leaves as the plant’s functioning photosynthetic organs. The leaves of young plants are trifoliate, but in mature plants they are reduced to scales or small spines. All the species have yellow flowers, generally showy, some with a very long flowering season.

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Detail of Gorse

In this image you get a good view of the thorns, which you do not want to try to walk through without some adequate protection.  The gorse in Scotland can grow rather large, as I saw bushes well above 2 meters in height.

Have a wonderful day!

Thorny Beauty!

Tough as beauty!

The WordPress Daily Prompt has the theme of Thorny.  One idea sprung to mind immediately when I saw this one: the Scottish beauty of gorse!

Gorse is ubiquitous across the highlands and isles, where it adorns many hills with a lush coat of yellow that looks so beautiful from a distance.  It is a pioneer that knows how to protect itself with thorny spikes that are strong and almost an inch long; any encounter with this defense mechanism is sure to leave an impression that is not soon forgotten.

Here’s a quick shot that shows both the beauty and the beast….

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Prickly Scottish Beauty

This was captured on the lovely isle of Mull, where it abounded.  Where you get a dense conglomeration of gorse brushes, there is no passing without strong protection.

Have a wonderful day!