Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Gorse to deter vermin

Gorse, Ulex europaeus, revealed behind panelling in Valence House Museum, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, during the course of repair work in 1992.  ‘Gorse is an evergreen bush that grew in abundance around Dagenham.  Pieces of gorse were often placed in the cavities of hollow-walled buildings as its sharp, spiky leaves [actually modified shoots] acted as a deterrent to pests, such as mice, rats and squirrels, which were prone to running around inside these walls.’

Such gorse, which appears to have been collected during the spring, has only been found in one part of the house, however it is possible that it was ‘placed throughout the building’ but removed from elsewhere during earlier renovation work.

Photographed February 2023, © Carlos Bruzon.

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