Waitaki Resource Recovery Park

The Eyes of the Beholder

Resource is in the eyes of the beholder!

Resource depletion and economic challenges are going to change what we value as resource.

In my view, one of these resources is the undervalued plant, Ulex Europaeus, sometimes known as Furze, which thrives in poor growing areas and conditions including drought. It has widely been used for land reclamation, eg mine tailings, where its nitrogen-fixing capacity helps other plants establish. As a nursery crop in developing plantings such as forestry, natives, woodlots or hedgerows, Ulex Europaeus provides shelter from wind and frost for establishing plants. It also provides excellent protection for the establishing trees from rabbit and hare damage by using the natural leaf drop mulch to surround the developing plants. This mulch also provides weed suppressant and moisture retention.

As a beekeeper, I especially value Ulex Europaeus for its ability to produce high quality protein pollen at a time which is most beneficial during brood-raising in spring. This negates the need to supplementary feed with a lower food value and high cost product. The maintenance of brood rearing in honeybee colonies is dependent almost entirely upon the bees receiving adequate supplies of the protein, vitamins and minerals that are essential for brood rearing, the rate of which varies according to the amount and quality of pollen available.

Ulex Europaeus has been traditionally used as a low cost hedge providing shelter. It is high in protein and has been used as feed for livestock, particularly in winter when other greenstuff is unavailable. Having around half the protein content of oats, it was traditionally used as fodder for cattle being made palatable by being ”bruised” (crushed) by hand-held mallets, ground to a moss-like consistency using hand or water driven mills or finely chopped and mixed with straw chaff.

Ulex Europaeus is highly flammable and was used to fire traditional bread and pizza ovens.

A fabulous wine can be made from the flowers which also add nutrition to salads and tea. The gorgeous scent from these flowers in the height of summer reminds me of the aroma of coconut oil wafting from Bondi Beach in the footloose days of my youth.

This coconut flavour can be captured in a refreshing cordial or ice cream topping made using the flowers as we would make elderflower cordial.

So, of course, gorse is a resource!


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42 Chelmer Street, Oamaru, New Zealand.

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