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


Erica lusitanica (Spanish heath)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Erica
Species: E. lusitanica
Binomial name: Erica lusitanica
Common name: Spanish heath, Portuguese heath.

Erica lusitanica is a species of flowering plant in the heather family. It is native to south-western Europe and it is present in other regions of the world as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed.
It is naturalized in New Zealand and is classed as an invasive weed in most areas because it forms dense infestations that crowd out regeneration of native seedlings especially on newly disturbed sites.
It habits hillside pastures, shrubland, grassland, open disturbed areas, roadsides. It is abundant & widespread especially in areas with moderate to high rainfall, poor acidic soils & low fertility.

It is an erect, hairy woody perennial shrub just under two meters in maximum height. It is densely covered in green, leathery, needle-like evergreen leaves each less than a centimetre long in whorls of 3-4. Impressive masses of white bell-shaped flowers form (Mar-Dec).
Flowers appear between the leaves singly or in small clusters. Each is a hanging rounded tubular bell of fused light pink to white petals. The fruit is a capsule a few millimetres long filled with minuscule seeds small enough to disperse on the wind. A single plant can produce millions of seeds per year. Seeds are also dispersed by animal contact.