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All About Heather…
and Heath Too

Heather is perhaps most often associated with the rocky highlands of Scotland where it has grown profusely for centuries sometimes in places where few other plants can survive. But it is not a plant exclusive to Scotland or even just the northern hemisphere of our world. It grows on nearly every continent.

All About Heathers Name

There is evidence that the common name for this plant (heather) is derived from the 14th Century Scottish word haeddre. However, the botanical name (which is Calluna) was derived from the Greek word kallunein (which loosely means to cleanse). Scholars speculate that the Greek word was chosen to be indicative of the many uses of heather (to make brooms and other cleaning implements and medicinal uses for internal disorders).

The well known or true Scottish Heather is botanically referred to as Calluna Vulgaris (followed by a more descriptive name). This is an indicator it will bloom sometime between June and November in a color specific to the cultivar you select.

All About What is Heather and What is Heath… and Heath

Many plants referred to as heather are actually heath. Heath is a similar plant (the leaves look a bit different) with condition needs similar to Heather plants. The untrained eye has difficulty telling them apart.

When buying a plant, if the botanical name on the label begins with Erica it is most likely a Heath plant. However, there is an Irish Heath botanically named Menziesia polifolia that grows to about six inches tall with small dark green leaves and spikes of drooping white or rose colored bells, this plant blooms from July to September.

Between the hardy species of Calluna (Heather) and Erica (Heath) there are hundreds of cultivars which provide the gardener with an amazing diversity of flower shape and color, foliage shape and color, and growing habits.

Clearly, Heather and Heath are the plants for all seasons. A garden of heather and heath can be planned so that something is in bloom every month of the year! Gardeners can choose to displays of pink, lavender, white and gray in the spring; red, yellow and purple in the summer; bronze, orange, and yellow in the fall; and evergreen leaves dotted with red blooms in winter

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