The flowers are small, with 4 separate lilac-pink calyx, 4-separate bell-shaped corolla, slightly smaller than the calyx, painted in lilac-pink color, has 8 stamens and one pistil with an upper ovary. The flowers are collected in many-flowered apical racemes.
- Family: Heather (Ericaceae)
- Homeland: North Africa, Southern Europe, Caucasus.
- Stem: evergreen branched shrub 30 to 70 cm tall.
- Leaves: small, up to 2.5 cm long, up to 1 cm wide, sessile, trihedral, tiled on stems in 4 rows, completely cover the surface of the stems.
- Fruit: capsule, ripens in September-October.
- Flowering period: July-September.
- Illumination: bright light, partial shade.
- Watering: plentiful in the warm season, does not require watering in winter.
- Content temperature: summer + 20-25 ° С, winter up to – 10 ° С, many varieties require winter shelter.
- Flowering period: depends on the variety.
- Propagation: seeds, root division, cuttings.
- Retains viability in the soil up to 40 years.
Where heather grows
Naturally grows almost throughout Europe – from the north to the Mediterranean Sea, in Siberia, Morocco, the Azores, the Komi Republic and Belarus. It is widely distributed in the forest regions of the European part of Russia, where heather mainly grows in pine forests, in their glades and edges, swamps, peat bogs and wastelands. Forms huge multi-kilometer thickets, called heaths. Often grows on mountain slopes and in areas with rocky soil.
Heather: plant species
There is only one species in the genus – common heather (Calluna vulgaris) and about 300 plant varieties . Varieties of heather differ in terms of flowering and color of leaves and flowers.
Decorative heather (Calluna Salisb) is a small, up to 50 cm tall evergreen shrub with small needle-like leaves. The flowers are small lilac-pink, white or purple, bell-shaped. Heather, placed indoors, blooms from autumn to mid-winter, at a temperature of no more than + 12 ° C.
Tree heather (Erika arborea) is an evergreen, bushy tree growing up to 5 m tall, with small bluish leaves, up to 1 cm long, needle-shaped naked or short-pubescent. Widely bell-shaped flowers are small, up to 3 cm long, white, collected in a complex, 20 to 40 cm long pyramidal inflorescence. Flowers with a pleasant aroma. Blooms profusely during March-April. In culture since 1658.
Heather pink (Calluna Rose) is an evergreen shrub up to 90 cm tall and up to 50 cm in diameter. The stem is straight thin with hard branches. The narrowed-oval leaves of bright green color are retracted, up to 1.5 cm long, growing without cuttings directly from the stem. Hanging flowers are cylindrical, red, pink or white, up to 2 cm in diameter, collected in straight, thin, terminal racemes 10-15 cm long. Blooms in April-July. It is an excellent honey plant.
Heather garden – a group of frost-resistant varieties that differ in the height of the bush, the color of the leaves and flowers, is divided into 3 categories: tall, medium-tall and undersized varieties.
Tall varieties 50-70 cm tall
Heather long white (Long White) – with green leaves and white flowers.
Bill (Beale ) – with dark green leaves and light pink double flowers.
Golden (C. Aurea) – with yellow leaves in summer, brown-red and purple flowers in winter and autumn.
Alport (C. Alportii) – with dark green leaves and dark pink flowers.
Medium tall varieties from 30 to 40 cm
Plenums of Elba (Alba Plena) – green leaves, double flowers, white.
Boskop (Boskoop) – golden yellow leaves in summer, copper-orange in winter and autumn, lilac-pink flowers.
Darkness (Darkness) – with green leaves and purple-red flowers.
Hammond (Hammondii) – leaves are light green, flowers are white.
Low-growing varieties from 20 to 30 cm
Hamilton (JH Hamilton) – with yellow leaves and double flowers of a red hue.
Merlin (Marleen) – with dark green leaves and purple flowers.
Dark star (Dark Star) – with dark green leaves and semi-double ruby-red flowers.
Heather Scottish (Calluna vulgaris Hill) is a perennial , highly branched, evergreen shrub, from 30 cm to 1 m high. Stems with red-brown bark and thin, often rooting, branches. The leaves are small, sessile, green, short-needle, tiled-arranged in 4 rows.
The shape of the leaves is almost triangular, swept at the base, with a blunt apex. The flowers are small, pale lilac less often white, collected in a multi-flowered unilateral raceme. The calyx is shiny, 4-parted. Eight stamens, pistil with a tetrahedral upper ovary and a long style. The fruit is a capsule with small seeds.
Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
It is a perennial, evergreen, pollinated shrub with a height of 20 to 70 cm and a width of up to 45 cm. Common heather has scaly, tiled-overlapping, trihedral, dark green sessile leaves up to 2-2.5 cm long. The bell-shaped corolla is slightly irregular, lilac-pink, rarely white, with fused petals. The flowers are located at the ends of the lateral shoots and are collected in dense racemose inflorescences.
Flowering period: July-August, after which the perianths do not fall off and the common heather retains its attractive appearance.
Graceful Heather (Erica gracilis)
The plant is native to South Africa. Graceful heather is an evergreen shrub up to 50 cm tall with short lateral shoots and very small, up to 5 mm long linear leaves of light green color. The flowers are elongated-oval, hairless, goblet, constricted in the throat, bright red. Flowers collected in 4 pcs. at the short ends of the shoots.
Blooms in October-February. There are varieties that differ in the color of the flowers. An indispensable variety of heather for winter gardens, landscaping of bright rooms and forcing.
Diseases and pests of heather
The culture is incredibly resistant to diseases and is practically not affected by pests, but fungal and viral diseases are possible. Basically, heather is affected by diseases and pests when improperly cared for or kept in too damp soil.
The most common heather disease is sulfur rot, which affects the plant and develops with an increased level of soil and air moisture. When the first signs appear (gray bloom on the shoots, foliage fall and partial death of young shoots), it is necessary to treat the plant with the antifungal drug Fundazol or Topaz, and with a stronger lesion, a 1% solution of copper sulphate is used. Treatment is carried out in 2-3 doses with an interval of 6-10 days, and preventive treatment is carried out in early spring or late autumn.
The leaves turn brown and the tops of young shoots wither – waterlogging of the soil or excessive fertilization.
If the young shoots dry out and the leaves become covered with a grayish-white bloom, then this is an infection with powdery mildew. Antifungal drugs are used for treatment.
Deformation of shoots and flowers, uneven, uncharacteristic coloring of flowers and leaves are obvious symptoms of viral diseases for which there are no effective treatment methods. In this case, the plant must be dug up and burned to prevent the spread of the disease.
Of the pests, it is most often infected with a scab. Effectively in the fight helps morning spraying with soapy water.
Heather in the garden
Due to its unusual appearance, noticeable, abundant, long and beautiful flowering, heather occupies a worthy place in the garden. Heather does not require special care, is drought-resistant and feels great in the shade, which allows it to be used as a decorative flowering plant that complements the overall picture of the garden.
With the right care, you can easily create a closed continuous carpet of heather plants, very picturesque both in individual heather gardens and in compositions with tall plants, on alpine slides or as a border along paths in the garden .
Heathers with decorative forms of coniferous plants or flowering shrubs look very impressive and are great for decorating the foreground of the site.
Heather has long been used in winemaking, brewing and for dyeing yarn in shades of yellow. Currently, heather has been used in various fields:
- in agriculture it is used as a fodder plant;
- dried shoots and flowers are used as fillers for fragrant pillows and for making winter bouquets;
- dried and crushed flowers are used as a seasoning for snacks and first courses;
- in landscape design;
- for making heather tea.
In many countries, heather is grown on an industrial scale for the extraction of honey, the manufacture of pharmacological preparations and further processing into feed additives for animals.
Healing properties of heather
Chemical properties. The aerial part of the plant contains such elements as:
- about 7% catechin tannins;
- 0.3-0.86% arbutin and ericoline glycoside;
- the enzyme arbutase;
- starch, resins, gums, flavonoids, carotene;
- compounds of potassium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus;
- organic acids and dyes.
But the most valuable substance contained in heather is silicic acid, which affects the state of connective tissues.
The healing properties of heather have been used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, sedative, expectorant, hypotensive, astringent, wound healing, diaphoretic and diuretic. Allow it to be used in practical medicine for:
- inflammation of the bladder and renal pelvis;
- diarrhea and enterocolitis as an astringent;
- nervous excitations, as a sedative and hypnotic;
- catarrh of the stomach with high acidity;
- rheumatism, gout, stones and sand in the kidneys, cough;
- cystitis, prostatitis, diseases of the liver and spleen.
Heather as an external remedy is used for rashes, ulcers on the body, rickets, eczema, allergies, burns and as a wound healing agent. Heather baths are very effective for swelling of the legs due to diseases of the kidneys and heart and for rheumatism, and festering wounds are sprinkled with powder from dried flowers.