The Loop

British Open 2017: What the heck is a gorse bush?

July 21, 2017
Dustin Johnson british open

Dan Mullan

You’re going to hear the words "gorse bush" a lot this weekend while watching the British Open. Whether players hitting balls into the pesky plants or it’s Sergio Garcia hurting his shoulder by hitting one with a club, the gorse bushes are making their presence known at Royal Birkdale. But what exactly are they? Here are five fun facts:

They’re prickly:
The greenery you see on the gorse bush aren’t leaves; they’re thorny needles.

They’re flammable:
The bush has a history of being used in traditional bread ovens as fuel.

They’re flowering:
The bushes flower usually from January to June. The flowers are yellow. Obviously, seeing as they’re all green, the ones at Birkdale are likely past peak season. (Bet the Masters folks would have made sure the gorse hung on and stayed in bloom if they were playing at Birkdale!)

They smell good:
When in bloom, the flowers of the gorse bush give off a pretty strong scent that smells like coconut.

They’re edible:
Both the buds and the flowers can be eaten. (OK, at least that's what they say on the Internet.) If you’re going for the buds, it's recommended to pickle them and use them like capers. If you’re more into the flower, you can just eat it raw, or get fancy and make it into a tea. Allegedly, the flowers taste like bitter almonds. We haven’t eaten them, so we can’t verify this claim. Let us know, however, if you ever give them a try.