Erica patersonii

Bright, golden yellow, waxy, tubular flowers are arranged in closely packed spikes on the middle to upper section of the stem; foliage dark green, tufts of needle-like leaves densely cover the branches; habit open erect, sparsely branched shrub growing up to 1 m tall.

The flowering stem resembles corn on the cob, which gives it its common name, mielie heath. Branching occurs mainly at the base of the stem and is woody and often bare.

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Erica cerinthoides

Flowers red; V-X; foliage green; habit tall woody; height 1.5m if not burnt.

The “Fire Erica”, is one of a few Ericas that resprout from a woody rootstock after fire. The result is the production of clusters of lovely inflated, tubular, red flowers at the ends of short branches, which form neat, colourful shrublets in a bleak burnt landscape. Fire thus keeps this plant in good healthy condition and will stimulate flowering at any time of the year. After a number of years they will grow taller, become straggly and produce fewer flowers.

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Erica verticillata

A handsome, strong growing, hardy species averaging between 1.5 and 2 m in height, but old specimens have been recorded to grow up to 3 m tall. It produces beautiful pink, tubular flowers arranged in neat whorls organised in distinct groups up the principal stems and near the tips of sturdy branches. Peak flowering is from January to March, but this species produces some flowers intermittently throughout the year. It has been observed that inflorescences produced outside of the main flowering season are not as handsome as those produced during peak flowering as they tend to be arranged in a less orderly manner.

There are eight cultivars of Erica verticillata at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Each collection is recorded in the Kirstenbosch plant records database with a unique accession number. The various forms have also been endorsed with cultivar names and numbers by the international registrar of erica cultivar names, Dr Charles Nelson.

Erica gracilis

Covered from top to bottom in 3mm urn-shaped flowers, usually in shades of magenta; XI; height 60–75cm. It cannot withstand severe frosts but even when dead, the flower retains colour for the remaining winter months. An extremely popular pot-plant in Europe which is used to decorate window-boxes and graveyards during the festivals of All Souls and All Saints (Halloween). Dyed plants are also now being marketed.

Erica blenna

Flowers bright orange with green tips and are sticky; IV-XI; foliage deep-green, neatly arranged around the stem, point upwards and are slightly curved at their ends; habit erect, woody; height 1.2-1.5 m.

Name from the Greek word blennos, which means mucous, referring to its sticky flowers.

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Erica baueri subsp. baueri

Flowers white, pink or combinations of both, tubular in shape and grouped in attractive clusters near the ends of the branches; foliage small grey-green; habit sparse, upright woody; height up to 1.5m. Common name is Bridal heath.

First published 1805 in H.C. Andrews’s Heathery. He named it after his fellow artist at Kew, Francis Bauer (1758 – 1810) who was botanical artist to King George III.

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Erica glandulosa subsp. glandulosa

Flowers curved and tubular, between 18 and 26 mm long, shiny and semi-translucent, normally pink to orange, but yellow-flowered forms are also found. It is a sturdy, medium-sized, single- to multi-stemmed, bushy shrub growing up to 1.5 m tall. Except for the flowers, it is covered with tiny glandular hairs, which give it a mildly sticky feel. The leaves are grouped on short side branches on sturdy stems giving the shrub an overall, thickly leafy appearance.

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Erica speciosa

Bright crimson flowers often display pale green, white or yellow lobes; XII-III; foliage green, simple leaves are whorled, linear, entire and petiolate; habit erect; height 80-120 cms. Erica speciosa can be seen high in the Swartberg Mountains in large drifts forming shrubby stands over a metre in height.

Erica speciosa was first described by Henry Charles Andrews in 1804.

See Heather Society Yearbook 1998 page 31 for some more information about this species.

Erica mammosa

The flowers are inflated-tubular with a closed mouth and are 15–20 mm long; form dense spike-like inflorescences, up to 200 mm long, towards the tips of the main branches; borne singly or in pairs in the axil of a leaf; colour varies from locality to locality and from bush to bush, ranging from orange-red, purple, dark red, greenish cream, and white, to various shades of pink; bright attractive flowers can be found throughout the year but mainly in summer and autumn (December to April). After pollination the flowers dry, each holds a fruit with 4 locules/chambers containing numerous small seeds. The seeds are shed when ripe. Slow-growing and long-lived, robust, erect, well-branched shrub, 0.5–1.0 m tall, growing to a height of 1.8 m if left undisturbed. It has small, linear leaves, 6–10 mm long, arranged in whorls of 4 to 6.

Erica ventricosa

An erect shrub reaching 90cm; pink flowers are hard, dry and wax-like; about 15mm long. A very popular pot plant particularly in north America and Europe – it is presently being marketed as “Italian heather” which is a nonsensical marketing name of no significance.