Erica cinerea

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Erica cinerea
Bell Heather - - 493968.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Erica
Species: E. cinerea
Binomial name
Erica cinerea

Erica cinerea (bell heather, or heather-bell) is a species of flowering plant in the heath family Ericaceae, native to western and central Europe.


It is a low, spreading shrub growing to 15–60 cm (5.9–23.6 in) tall, with fine needle-like leaves 4–8 mm (0.16–0.31 in) long arranged in whorls of three. The flowers are bell-shaped, purple (rarely white), 4–7 mm (0.16–0.28 in) long, produced in mid- to late summer. The flowers are dry, similar in texture to the strawflower.

The Latin specific epithet cinerea means "ash coloured".[1]


Erica cinerea is native to the west of Europe, where it is most abundant in Britain and Ireland, France, northern Spain and southern Norway. It also occurs in the Faroe Islands, Belgium, Germany, north-western Italy, and the Netherlands. It mostly occurs on moors and heathland with relatively dry, acidic, nutrient poor soils. It occurs in coastal dune heath and dune slack and occasionally in woodland. It is described as "of least concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[2]


It is grown as an ornamental plant, cultivated in a wider range of colors. It is drought-tolerant and grows well in full sun with well-drained soil. Like most heathers, it is a calcifuge and dislikes alkaline soils (e.g. calcareous) which cause the symptoms of iron deficiency. Like other cultivated heathers, it is often seen as groundcover among plantings of dwarf conifers.[3]

Bell heather is a source of heather honey.[4]

These cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:


  1. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315. 
  2. ^ "Erica cinerea". International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T203006A2758531.en. 
  3. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  4. ^ "Bell Heather, Erica cinerea". Scottish Wildlife Trust. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica cinerea 'C.D. Eason'". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica cinerea 'Pink Ice'". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Erica cinerea 'Velvet Night'". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Fordham, Roy (2000). Eden Valley. In Ludgvan A Century of Horticulture 1903-2003. Ludgvan: Ludgvan Horticultural Society. pp. 25–8. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Erica cinerea at Wikimedia Commons