Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) in Australia

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is considered as one of the worst weeds in Australia. It is regarded as one of the 100 destructive invasive species (1) . Gorse has both economic and environmental impact. The weed is mostly invaded Tasmania and Part of Victoria (2 ).

Gorse is an indigenous species to Europe from Scotland south to Portugal, Galiza and East of Belgium. (1). Gorse is introduced to “Panama, Argentina, South Africa, China, Indonesia, United States, Hawaii, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Mauritius, Ecuador, Tanzania, Uruguary, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Australia” (2 ). Gorse were introduced to agriculture as a hedge and for ornamental purposes (2)

Gorse is a perennial evergreen shrub. The young braches of the gorse are typically spine. Gorse grows in area that receives 650-900mm (3) during the year. However, the gorse also adapted to grow in Tasmania West Coast where the mean rainfall is 2400mm (3). It is also known to grow well on fertile soil, heavy clays, disturbed and light soil. The gorse can survive on poor soil nutrient because they are able to fix Nitrogen. The gorse is restricted to higher rainfall areas and is mainly found in the Fleurieu Peninsula (3).

The species displaces indigenous plants. The gorse has both the negative and positive impacts. Gorse changes a soil condition by both acidifying soil and fixing nitrogen. The gorse removes and preserves nutrients for example Sodium, Calcium and Magnesium and it weakens the soil. The bare soil is mostly found between individual gorse and results to soil erosion especially at the steep slopes. Goose decreases the quantity of forage when they are introduced on rangeland. Gorse is also blamed to disturb the growth of conifer trees. The foliage and seeds of the gorse are highly flammable. The fire which is produced by gorse is hotter comparing to the fire produced by other weeds (2) .The gorse also has positive impacts. It is usually used as a hedge plant, windbreaks, ornamental shrubs, gully reclamation, medically purposes and food for livestock (3).

The thickets of gorse can be burnt to the same level with the ground. The seedling will then spray in the next year to decrease seedlings (3). The spray will follow to kill the regrowth of the species. The gorse can be controlled by using mechanical clearing which can control large infestation. The tractor or bulldozers with rippers can be used (3).

References

1. Wikepedia Contributors. Common Gorse [Online] Wikepedia,The free Encyclopedia; 2007 Jan 21; 15:30 UTC [ cited 2007 January 24]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Gorse

2. Hill R. 2005. europaeus (shrub,tree). [Online]. [cited 2007 Jan 24] Available from:

http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?fr=1&si=69&sts=

3. CRC. 2003. Gorse (Ulex europaeus) [Online]. [cited 2007 Jan 24] Available from:

http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/pubs/u-europaeus.pdf

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