Erica arborea

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Erica arborea
Tree heath
Erica arborea JPG1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Erica
Species: E. arborea
Binomial name
Erica arborea
L.

Erica arborea (tree heath) is a species of flowering plant (angiosperms) in the heather family, Ericaceae. It is native to the maquis shrublands surrounding the Mediterranean Basin and west to Portugal and the Canary and Madeira Islands. There are disjunct populations in Africa including the Ethiopian Highlands, the mountains of Ruwenzori and the Cameroon Mountains. Naturalised populations occur in south-eastern Australia.[1]

Description[edit]

Erica arborea is an upright evergreen shrub or small tree with a typical height of 1–4 m (3 ft 3 in–13 ft 1 in), but with some specimens reaching 7 m (23 ft), bearing dark green needle-like leaves and numerous small honey-scented bell-shaped white flowers. It is a calcifuge, preferring acid soil in an open sunny situation.[2]

Cultivars[edit]

Several cultivars and hybrids have been developed for garden use, of which the following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:

  • 'Estrella Gold'[3] (gold-tipped leaves)
  • E. arborea var. alpina[4]
  • E. arborea var. alpina f. aureifolia 'Albert's Gold'[5] (gold-leaved)
  • E. × veitchii 'Exeter'[6] (E. arborea × E. lusitanica)

Other tall growing heaths, including the Portugal Heath (Erica lusitanica) and channel heath (Erica canaliculata) may also sometimes be called tree heath.

Uses[edit]

Small tree sized examples of Erica arborea in Madeira.

The wood, known as briar root or French bruyère, is extremely hard and heat-resistant, and is used for making smoking pipes.

The football-sized tubers are harvested at the age of 30 to 60 years. They are cooked for several hours, after which they are dried for several months before they are further processed. The wood is light brown to reddish brown, often beautifully textured, very hard, heat-resistant and does not affect the aroma of pipe tobacco smoke .

The wood is also used for making jewellery and knife handles.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Erica arborea L.". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. 
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold'". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica arborea var. alpina". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica arborea var. alpina f. aureifolia 'Albert's Gold'". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica × veitchii 'Exeter'". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  • Adams, W.M., A.S. Goudie & A. R. Orme (eds.) (1996): The Physical Geography of Africa. Page 55. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Gallery[edit]