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

Erica baccans (Berry heath)

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Erica
Species: E. baccans
Binomial name: Erica baccans
Synonyms: Erica bacciformis, Erica moniliformis, Ericoides baccans.
Common names:  Berry heath, Pink berry heath, Berry flower heath, Berry-flower heath, Berryflower heath, Berry-flowered heath, 

Erica baccans is a glabrous, robust shrub that is endemic to Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens but this species is now regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and as a potential environmental weed or "sleeper weed" in other parts of southern Australia. There is a prohibition on sale and movement throughout South Australia where it has invaded heathlands, woodlands, grasslands and dry sclerophyll forests. In New Zealand, Erica baccans is a garden escapee that has become fully naturalised in various areas from Kaitaia to the north of the Kaipara Harbour, and on Great Barrier Island. Its habitats are banks, roadsides, sandy areas, and shrublands.

Erica baccans is an erect, woody, densely branched, strong-growing shrub reaching an average height of 1-2 m. Older specimens may reach a height of over 2.5 m. Its upper branches are liberally covered with fine, linear, upward-pointing, light green needle-like leaves that are 5-8 mm long x 7 mm wide. They are in whorls of 4 and are closely overlapping on younger growth.
During August to December, Erica baccans produces masses of small, bright, magenta/pink, berry-shaped flowers in groups of four at the ends of the branches. The four sepals surrounding the corolla are shaped like the keel of a boat and these ridges help to give each flower a box-like appearance. Erica baccans is distinguished from Erica cinerea (Bell heather) by having ridges and depressions on the corolla tube.
The seeds are small, about 4 mm in diameter and are contained within a dry, globose shaped capsule, which splits open releasing the seeds. Each shrub produces thousands of seeds that are dispersed by gravity, wind, water and humans. Many of these seeds persist in the soil seed bank for 4 years or more.

The linear upward-pointing leaves

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/