I could not help but notice this pleasant scene of 3 blossoms….Gorse, Hawthorn and Rapeseed. To get the 3 together was awesome.
Ulex (gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Fabaceae. The genus comprises about 20 plant species of thorny evergreen shrubs in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. The species are native to parts of western Europe and northwest Africa, with the majority of species in Iberia.
Gorse is closely related to the brooms, and like them, has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions. However it differs in its extreme thorniness, the shoots being modified into branched thorns 1–4 centimetres (0.39–1.6 in) long, which almost wholly replace the leaves as the plant’s functioning photosynthetic organs. The leaves of young plants are trifoliate, but in mature plants they are reduced to scales or small spines. All the species have yellow flowers, generally showy, some with a very long flowering season.
The most widely familiar species is common gorse (Ulex europaeus), the only species native to much of western Europe, where it grows in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils. It is also the largest species, reaching 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) in height; this compares with typically 20–40 centimetres (7.9–16 in) for Western Gorse (Ulex gallii). This latter species is characteristic of highly exposed Atlantic coastal heathland and montane habitats. In the eastern part of Great Britain, dwarf furze (Ulex minor) replaces western gorse. Ulex minor grows only about 30 centimetres (12 in) tall, a habit characteristic of sandy lowland heathland.
Common gorse flowers a little in late autumn and through the winter, coming into flower most strongly in spring. Western Gorse and Dwarf Furze flower in late summer (August-September in Ireland and Great Britain|Britain). Between the different species, some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrase: "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion". Gorse flowers have a distinctive coconut scent, experienced very strongly by some individuals, but weakly by others.[2
Gorse may grow as a fire-climax plant, well adapted to encourage and withstand fires, being highly flammable, and having seed pods that are to a large extent opened by fire, thus allowing rapid regeneration after fire. The burnt stumps also readily sprout new growth from the roots. Where fire is excluded, gorse soon tends to be shaded out by taller-growing trees, unless other factors like exposure also apply. Typical fire recurrence periods in gorse stands are 5–20 years.
Gorse thrives in poor growing areas and conditions including drought; it is sometimes found on very rocky soils, where many species cannot thrive. Moreover, it is widely used for land reclamation (e.g., mine tailings), where its nitrogen-fixing capacity helps other plants establish better.
Gorse is a valuable plant for wildlife, providing dense thorny cover ideal for protecting bird nests. In Britain, France and Ireland, it is particularly noted for supporting Dartford Warblers (Sylvia undata) and European Stonechats (Saxicola rubicola); the common name of the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) attests to its close association with gorse. The flowers are sometimes eaten by the caterpillars of the Double-striped Pug moth (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata), while those of the case-bearer moth Coleophora albicosta feed exclusively on gorse. The dry wood of dead gorse stems provides food for the caterpillars of the concealer moth Batia lambdella.
In many areas of North America (notably California and Oregon), southern South America, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, the common gorse, introduced as an ornamental plant or hedge, has become an invasive species due to its aggressive seed dispersal; it has proved very difficult to eradicate and detrimental in native habitats. Common gorse is also an invasive species in the montane grasslands of Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka.
Gorse readily becomes dominant in suitable conditions, and where this is undesirable for agricultural or ecological reasons control is required, either to remove gorse completely, or to limit its extent. Gorse stands are often managed by regular burning or flailing, allowing them to regrow from stumps or seed. Denser areas of gorse may be bulldozed.
Gorse flowers are edible and can be used in salads, tea and to make a non-grape-based fruit wine.
As fodder, gorse is high in protein and may be used as feed for livestock, particularly in winter when other greenstuff is not available. Traditionally it was used as fodder for cattle, being made palatable either by "bruising" (crushing) with hand-held mallets, or grinding to a moss-like consistency with hand- or water-driven mills, or being finely chopped and mixed with straw chaff. Gorse is also eaten as forage by some livestock, such as feral ponies, which may eat little else in winter. Ponies may also eat the thinner stems of burnt gorse.
Gorse bushes are highly flammable, and in many areas bundles of gorse were used to fire traditional bread ovens.
Gorse wood has been used to make small objects; being non-toxic, it is especially suited for cutlery. In spite of its durability it is not used for construction because the plant is too small and the wood is unstable, being prone to warping. Gorse is useful for garden ornaments because it is resistant to weather and rot.
The furze is the badge of the Sinclair and MacLennan clans of Scotland. Compare this with the broom (Planta genista) as the emblem and basis of the name of the Plantagenet kings of England.
The flower, known as chorima in the Galician language, is considered the national flower of Galicia in NW Spain.
Gorse in popular culture
In Thomas Hardy’s classic novel The Return of the Native, when Clym is partially blinded through excessive reading, he becomes a furze-cutter on Egdon Heath, to the dismay of his wife, Eustacia. In the book, the timeless, gorse-covered heath is described in each season of the novel’s year-and-a-day timeline and becomes symbolic of the greater nature of mankind.
Its flammability rendered gorse symbolic as quickly flammable and quickly burning out; for example, Doyle, in his book "Sir Nigel" has Sir John Chandos say: "…They flare up like a furzebush in the flames, but if for a short space you may abide the heat of it, then there is a chance that it may be cooler… If the Welsh be like the furze fire, then, pardieu! the Scotch are the peat, for they will smolder and you will never come to the end of them."
Winnie-the-Pooh fell into a gorse bush while trying to get honey in the first chapter of the book of the same name.
In The second book of Tolkien’s "Lord of the rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers", Frodo and Sam led by Gollum walked underneath very old and tall thickets of gorse on their way to pass by Minas Morgul. 
In "[[Red Doc>]]", Anne Carson’s 2013 sequel to her 1998 novel-in-verse entitled "Autobiography of Red", the protagonist, G, owns a herd of musk oxen who like to feed on gorse; one ox in particular, Io, eats gorse flowers and hallucinates that she can fly.
Crataegus monogyna, known as common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world where it is an invasive weed. Other common names include may, mayblossom, maythorn, quickthorn, whitethorn, motherdie, and haw. This species is one of several that have been referred to as Crataegus oxyacantha, a name that has been rejected by the botanical community as too ambiguous.
The Common Hawthorn is a shrub or small tree 5–14 m tall, with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5 cm long. The leaves are 2–4 cm long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5-25 together; each flower is about 1 cm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant. They are pollinated by midges, bees and other insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.
It is distinguished from the related but less widespread Midland Hawthorn (C. laevigata) by its more upright growth, the leaves being deeply lobed, with spreading lobes, and in the flowers having just one style, not two or three. However they are inter-fertile and hybrids occur frequently; they are only entirely distinct in their more typical forms.
Crataegus monogyna is one of the most common species used as the "hawthorn" of traditional herbalism, which is of considerable interest for treating cardiac insufficiency by evidence-based medicine. The plant parts used medicinally are usually sprigs with both leaves and flowers, or alternatively the fruit. Several species of Crataegus have both traditional and modern medicinal uses. It is a good source of antioxidant phytochemicals,especially extracts of hawthorn leaves with flowers.
In gardening and agriculture
Common Hawthorn is extensively planted as a hedge plant, especially for agricultural use. Its spines and close branching habit render it effectively stock and human proof with some basic maintenance. The traditional practice of hedge laying is most commonly practised with this species. It is a good fire wood which burns with a good heat and little smoke.
Numerous hybrids exist, some of which are used as garden shrubs. The most widely used hybrid is C. × media (C. monogyna × C. laevigata), of which several cultivars are known, including the very popular ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ with dark pink double flowers. Other garden shrubs that have sometimes been suggested as possible hybrids involving the Common Hawthorn, include the Various-leaved Hawthorn of the Caucasus, which is only very occasionally found in parks and gardens.
Edible "berries", petals, and leaves
The fruit of hawthorn, called haws, are edible raw but are commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, used to make wine, or to add flavour to brandy. Botanically they are pomes, but they look similar to berries. A haw is small and oblong, similar in size and shape to a small olive or grape, and red when ripe. Haws develop in groups of 2-3 along smaller branches. They are pulpy and delicate in taste. In this species (C. monogyna) they have only one seed, but in other species of hawthorn there may be up to 5 seeds.
Petals are also edible, as are the leaves, which if picked in spring when still young are tender enough to be used in salads.
An ancient specimen, and reputedly the oldest tree of any species in France, is to be found alongside the church at Saint Mars sur la Futaie, Mayenne . The tree has a height of 9 m, and a girth of 2.65 m (2009). The inscription on the plaque beneath reads: "This hawthorn is probably the oldest tree in France. Its origin goes back to St Julien (3rd century)", but such claims are impossible to verify.
A famous specimen in England was the Glastonbury or Holy Thorn which, according to legend, sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea after he thrust it into the ground whilst visiting Glastonbury in the 1st century AD. The tree was noteworthy because it flowered twice in a year, once in the late spring which is normal, but also once after the harshness of midwinter has passed. The original tree at Glastonbury Abbey, felled in 1640s during the English Civil War, has been propagated as the cultivar ‘Biflora’. A replacement was planted by the local council in 1951, but was cut down by vandals in 2010. 
The oldest known living specimen in East Anglia, and possibly in the United Kingdom, is known as "The Hethel Old Thorn", and is located in the churchyard in the small village of Hethel, south of Norwich, in Norfolk. It is reputed to be more than 700 years old, having been planted in the 13th century.
Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and, in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola), is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century. Older writers usually distinguished the turnip and rape by the adjectives round and long (-rooted), respectively. See also Brassica napobrassica, which may be considered a variety of Brassica napus. Some botanists include the closely related Brassica campestris within B. napus. (See Triangle of U).
Brassica napus is cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed, the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world.[
Cultivation and uses
Rapeseed oil was produced in the 19th century as a source of a lubricant for steam engines. It was less useful as food for animals or humans because it has a bitter taste due to high levels of glucosinolates. Varieties have now, however, been bred to reduce the content of glucosinolates, yielding a more palatable oil. This has had the side effect that the oil contains much less erucic acid.
Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel; leading producers include the European Union, Canada, the United States, Australia, China and India. In India, it is grown on 13% of cropped land. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, rapeseed was the third leading source of vegetable oil in the world in 2000, after soybean and oil palm, and also the world’s second leading source of protein meal, although only one-fifth of the production of the leading soybean meal.
World production is growing rapidly, with FAO reporting 36 million tons of rapeseed were produced in the 2003-2004 season, and estimating 58.4 million tons in the 2010-2011 season. In Europe, rapeseed is primarily cultivated for animal feed, owing to its very high lipid and medium protein content.
Natural rapeseed oil contains 50% erucic acid. Wild type seeds also contain high levels of glucosinolates (mustard oil glucosindes), chemical compounds that significantly lowered the nutritional value of rapeseed press cakes for animal feed. In North America, the term "canola", originally a syncopated form of the abbreviation "Can.O., L-A." (Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid) that was used by the Manitoba government to label the seed during its experimental stages, is widely used to refer to rapeseed, and is now a tradename for "double low" (low erucic acid and low glucosinolate) rapeseed.
The rapeseed is the valuable, harvested component of the crop. The crop is also grown as a winter-cover crop. It provides good coverage of the soil in winter, and limits nitrogen run-off. The plant is ploughed back in the soil or used as bedding. On some organic operations, livestock such as sheep or cattle are allowed to graze on the plants.
Processing of rapeseed for oil production produces rapeseed meal as a byproduct. The byproduct is a high-protein animal feed, competitive with soya. The feed is mostly employed for cattle feeding, but also for pigs and chickens (though less valuable for these). The meal has a very low content of the glucosinolates responsible for metabolism disruption in cattle and pigs. Neither canola nor soy is recommended as feed for organic animal products, as both are predominantly GMO (some estimates are now at 90%), which is prohibited by organic standards.
Rapeseed "oil cake" is also used as a fertilizer in China, and may be used for ornamentals, such as bonsai, as well.
Rapeseed leaves and stems are also edible, similar to those of the related bok choy or kale. Some varieties of rapeseed (called 油菜, yóu cài, lit. "oil vegetable" in Chinese; yau choy in Cantonese; cải dầu in Vietnamese; phak kat kan khao [ผักกาดก้านขาว] in Thai; and nanohana [菜の花]/nabana [菜花] in Japanese) are sold as greens, primarily in Asian groceries, including those in California, where it is known as yao choy or tender greens. They are eaten as sag (spinach) in Indian and Nepalese cuisine, usually stir-fried with salt, garlic and spices.
Rapeseed produces great quantities of nectar, and honeybees produce a light-colored, but peppery honey from it. It must be extracted immediately after processing is finished, as it will quickly granulate in the honeycomb and will be impossible to extract. The honey is usually blended with milder honeys, if used for table use or sold as bakery grade. Rapeseed growers contract with beekeepers for the pollination of the crop.
"Total loss" chain and bar oil for chainsaws have been developed which are typically 70% or more canola/rapeseed oil. These lubricants are claimed to be less harmful to the environment and less hazardous to users than traditional mineral oil products, although they are currently typically two to five times more expensive, leading some to use inexpensive cooking oil instead. Some countries, such as Austria, have banned the use of petroleum-based chainsaw oil. These "biolubricants" are generally reported to be functionally comparable to traditional mineral oil products, with some reports claiming one or other is superior, but with no overall consensus yet evident.
Rapeseed has also been researched as means of containing radionuclides that contaminated the soil after the Chernobyl disaster. It was discovered by researchers at the Belarusian Research Institute for Soil Science and Agrochemistry that rapeseed has a rate of uptake up to three times more efficient than other grains, and only about 3 to 6% of the radionuclides goes into the parts of the plant that could potentially enter the food chain. As oil repels radionuclides, it could be produced canola oil free from contaminants being concentrated in other parts of the plant – the straw, the roots, the seed pods, etc., which then can be ploughed back into the soil and create a recycling process.
Rapeseed oil is used as diesel fuel, either as biodiesel, straight in heated fuel systems, or blended with petroleum distillates for powering motor vehicles. Biodiesel may be used in pure form in newer engines without engine damage and is frequently combined with fossil-fuel diesel in ratios varying from 2% to 20% biodiesel. Owing to the costs of growing, crushing, and refining rapeseed biodiesel, rapeseed-derived biodiesel from new oil costs more to produce than standard diesel fuel, so diesel fuels are commonly made from the used oil. Rapeseed oil is the preferred oil stock for biodiesel production in most of Europe, accounting for about 80% of the feedstock, partly because rapeseed produces more oil per unit of land area compared to other oil sources, such as soybeans, but primarily because canola oil has a significantly lower Gel point (petroleum) than most other vegetable oils. An estimated 66% of total rapeseed oil supply in the European Union is expected to be used for biodiesel production in the 2010-2011 year.
Rapeseed is currently grown with a high level of nitrogen-containing fertilisers, and the manufacture of these generates N2O, a potent greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2. An estimated 3-5% of nitrogen provided as fertilizer for rapeseed is converted to N2O.
Canola was originally a trademark, but is now a generic term in North America for edible varieties of rapeseed oil. In Canada, an official definition of canola is codified in Canadian law.
Rapeseed oil had a distinctive taste and a greenish colour due to the presence of chlorophyll. It also contained a high concentration[specify] of erucic acid.
A variety of rapeseed developed in 1998 is considered to be the most disease- and drought-resistant canola. This and other recent varieties have been produced by using genetic engineering. In 2009, 90% of the rapeseed crops planted in Canada were GM (genetically modified), herbicide-tolerant canola varieties.
Rapeseed oil is one of the oldest vegetable oils, but historically was used in limited quantities due to high levels of erucic acid, which is damaging to cardiac muscle, and glucosinolates, which made it less nutritious in animal feed. Unmodified rapeseed oil can contain up to 45% erucic acid. Food-grade canola oil derived from rapeseed cultivars, also known as rapeseed 00 oil, low erucic acid rapeseed oil, LEAR oil, and rapeseed canola-equivalent oil, has been generally recognized as safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Canola oil is limited by government regulation to a maximum of 2% erucic acid by weight in the USA and 5% in the EU, with special regulations for infant food. These low levels of erucic acid are not believed to cause harm in human neonates.
In 1981, a deadly outbreak of disease in Spain, known as toxic oil syndrome, was caused by the consumption of rapeseed oil for industrial use that was fraudulently sold as cooking oil.
Rapeseed pollen contains known allergens. Whether rape pollen causes hay fever has not been well established, because rape is an insect-pollinated (entomophilous) crop, whereas hay fever is usually caused by wind-pollinated plants. The inhalation of oilseed rape dust may cause asthma in agricultural workers.
Worldwide production of rapeseed (including canola) has increased sixfold between 1975 and 2007. The production of canola and rapeseed 00 since 1975 has opened up the edible oil market for rapeseed oil. Since 2002, production of biodiesel has been steadily increasing in EU and USA to 6 million metric tons in 2006. Rapeseed oil is positioned to supply a good portion of the vegetable oils needed to produce that fuel. World production is thus expected to trend further upward between 2005 and 2015 as biodiesel content requirements in Europe go into effect. Every ton of rapeseed yields about 400 kg of oil.
Top rapeseed producers
(million metric ton)
UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
Pests and diseases
•Bertha armyworms (Mamestra configurata)
•Bronzed field beetle (Adelium brevicorne) larvae
•Cyst nematode (Heterodera schachtii)
•Diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella)
•Flea beetles (Phyllotreta sp.)
•Grasshoppers (order Orthoptera)
•Harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionica)
•Lygus bugs (Lygus spp.)
•Pollen beetle (Meligethes aeneus)
•Root maggots (Delia spp.)
•Snails and slugs
•Beet western yellows virus (Luteoviridae family)
•Blackleg (caused by the fungus species Leptosphaeria maculans)
•Clubroot (caused by the protist Plasmodiophora brassicae)
•Sclerotinia white stem rot (caused by the fungus genus Sclerotinia)
•White rust disease (caused by the fungus species Albugo candida)
Genome sequencing and genetics
Bayer Cropscience (in collaboration with BGI-Shenzhen, China, Keygene N.V., the Netherlands and the University of Queensland, Australia) announced it had sequenced the entire genome of Brassica napus and its constituent genomes present in Brassica rapa and Brassica oleracea in 2009. The "A" genome component of the amphidiploid rapeseed species B. napus is currently being sequenced by the Multinational Brassica Genome Project.[dated info]
GMO (genetically modified organism) controversy
The Monsanto Company has genetically engineered new cultivars of rapeseed to be resistant to the effects of its herbicide, Roundup. They have sought compensation from farmers found to have the Roundup Ready gene in canola in their fields without paying a license fee. These farmers have claimed the Roundup Ready gene was blown into their fields and crossed with unaltered canola. Other farmers claim that after spraying Roundup in non-canola fields to kill weeds before planting, Roundup Ready volunteers are left behind, causing extra expense to rid their fields of the weeds.
In a closely followed legal battle, the Supreme Court of Canada found in favor of Monsanto’s patent infringement claim for unlicensed growing of Roundup Ready in its 2004 ruling on Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser. The case garnered international controversy, as a court-sanctioned legitimation for the global patent protection of genetically modified crops. However, Schmeiser was not required to pay damages, as he did not benefit financially from the GMO crop in his field.
In March 2008, an out-of-court settlement between Monsanto and Schmeiser has an agreement for Monsanto to clean up the entire GMO-canola crop on Schmeiser’s farm at a cost of $660.
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