T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Calluna vulgaris (Heather)

Kingdom:   Plantae
Clade:        Angiosperms
Clade:        Eudicots
Clade:        Asterids
Order:        Ericales
Family:      Ericaceae
Genus:       Calluna
Species:     C. vulgaris
Binomial name: Calluna vulgaris
Common names:  Heather, Common heather, Ling, Scotch heather,
Calluna vulgaris is the sole species in the genus Calluna in the family Ericaceae. Calluna is native to Europe, Iceland the Faroe Islands and the Azores. It has been introduced into many other places worldwide with suitable climates, including North America, Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands. It grows on acidic soils in open sunny situations or in moderate shade.

It is classed as a weed in New Zealand because of the plant's reproductive capacity which is high, with seeds produced in very large numbers. Because they form dense stands that shade and out-compete low-growing vegetation it makes areas an unsuitable environment for native flora and fauna.  It is common in the pumice soils of the Volcanic plateau, at Te Aroha, Taranaki. Hokitika, Mt Cook, Queenstown. Te Anau and on Campbell Island

It is a low-growing evergreen, tough, wiry shrub growing up to 90 cm tall. The stems are woody and have young shoots that are densely hairy. They loose these hairs on maturity. The small scale-leaves (less than 2–3 mm long) are borne in opposite and decussate pairs.
Bell shaped flowers (2-4 mm long) emerge in late summer on narrow, leafy, elongated, upright, terminal clusters (2-9 cm long). They are usually are mauve in colour but white-flowered plants also occur occasionally. The flowers have sepal-like bracts at the base with a superior ovary. The fruits are tiny, round, hairy seed capsules. There are many cultivars with flowers having a range of colours. 


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