Gorse : Ulex europaeus
Plant : Large patches of gorse can be found on moorland and hedgerow in rural Northumberland. Its bright yellow flower provides colour on sunny days in winter and it can be an important early season forage for bees. It belongs to the Fabaceae family. These dense thorny shrubs grow up to 2 m. Its habitat includes hedgerows, moorland, common and waste land, with well drained acid soils.
Flower : Gorse flowers between December and June. The flower is yellow and smells of coconut. The flower is irregular, with 5 petals. One large standard petal forms the top of the flower, with two petals forming the sides and another two petals form the bottom of the flower. There are 10 stamens.
Pollen : The pollen load of the gorse is dark orange. The grain is round, has three furrow type pores, which run from the poles. It is approximately 50 um in size. The surface is pitted and spaced rods make up the exine.
Rex Sawyer’s book, Pollen Identification for beekeepers is really helpful for understanding the features of pollen. In Bob Maurer’s book, Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers, he shows some simple techniques for making up pollen slides. Click here to return to plants for bees index.