The paleolithic "hero" described near the beginning of Cyclops is covered "with a strong growth of tawny prickly hair in hue and toughness similar to the mountain gorse (Ulex Europeus)." This plant, evoked again several times in later chapters, is an evergreen shrub covered with long green photosynthetic thorns and with shorter leaves that, rather than unfurling, form additional spines. Its "prickly" quality and "toughness" are extreme. The bush is also called "furze," and makes some appearances in the novel under that name. (There is still another common name, "whin," which Seamus Heaney uses in his excellent early poem "Whinlands.")

John Hunt 2018

Gorse bushes around Trim Castle. Source: www.design42.com.

Gorse growing along an Irish coastal headland. Source: theecologist.org.

Thorns and leaf-spines of Ulex europaeus. Source: www.kuleuven-kulak.be.