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A genus of very spiny shrubs allied to the brooms, but differing in having the calyx as well as the petals yellow. Only three species, all natives of Britain, are worth cultivating; several others, mostly found in Spain and Portugal, are too tender to be of any value. The leaves are small and spine-tipped, often reduced to mere prickles; and all the species have the quality of evergreens, from the dark green of their spines and branches.
In gardens they are often useful for covering dry sunny banks or breadths of poor gravelly soil, where most shrubs would not thrive. In such places the double-flowered variety of U. europaeus is particularly effective in spring. The two other species have a value in flowering in late summer and autumn. None of them will thrive in shade, and they are never satisfactory in rich soil; in either case flowers will be sparsely borne, and the plants apt to get lank and ungainly. Where the soil is of good quality it is advisable not to dig it over when planting, with the view of keeping it as hard as possible. Propagation by cuttings is referred to under the notice of U. europaeus ‘Plena’. Seeds should be sown singly in small pots and the plants put in their permanent places at their first planting, for they transplant badly. The common gorse should be sown in situ.