Erica - Heather

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Erica carnea in flower

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Category Tree, Shrub, Perennial
Kingdom Plantae
Class Angiospermae
Order Ericales
Family Ericaceae
Species in this genus
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Please enter the plant name in this format: 'Latin name - Common Name'

Aden Earth Zone

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Erica (generally pronounced /ˈɛrɨkə/),<ref>The expected Anglo-Latin pronunciation, Template:IPA, may be given in dictionaries (OED: "Erica"), but Template:IPA is more commonly heard (Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607)</ref> the heaths or heathers, is a genus of approximately 860 species of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae<ref>Manning, John; Paterson-Jones, Colin (2008). Field Guide to Fynbos. Struik Publishers, Cape Town. p. 224. ISBN 9781770072657. </ref>. The English common names "heath" and "heather" are shared by some closely related genera of similar appearance.

Most of the species are small Shrubs from 0.2-1.5 m high, though some are taller; the tallest are E. arborea (Tree Heath) and E. scoparia (Besom Heath), both of which can reach up to 6-7 m tall. All are evergreen, with minute needle-like leaves 2-15 mm long. Flowers are sometimes axillary, and sometimes in terminal umbels or spikes, and are usually outward or downward facing. Flowers are borne in mass, and the plants are grown as landscape or garden plants for their floral effect. The seeds are very small, and in some species may persist in the soil for decades.

At least 660 of the species are endemic to South Africa, and these are often called the Cape heaths, forming the largest genus in the fynbos. The remaining species are native to other parts of Africa, Madagascar, the Mediterranean region, and Europe.

Like most of the rest of the Ericaceae, Erica species are mainly calcifugous, being limited to acidic or very acidic soils – from dry, sandy soils to extremely wet ones such as bog. They often dominate dwarf-shrub habitats (heathland and moorland), or the ground vegetation of open acidic woodland.

The closely related genus Calluna was formerly included in Erica – it differs in having even smaller scale-leaves (less than 2-3 mm long), and the flower corolla being more divided into separate petals.


Erica cinerea.jpg
Erica ciliaris.jpg

There are over 700 species, including:


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