Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Heath, the common name of the species of the genera Calluna and Erica, which belong to the gamopetalous family Ericaceee. They are evergreen under-shrubs with wiry stems, small narrow evergreen leaves generally in whorls, four sepals, a bell-shaped or tubular corolla of four petals, eight stamens, and a four-chambered capsule. The best known is the heather or ling, Calluna vulgaris, which has a pink calyx. It grows socially on the poorest soil and at considerable elevations, covering the moors of Scotland and the north of England, and affording shelter and, in its shoots, food to the grouse, black game, and mountain hare. It is made into brooms, brushes, baskets, or thatch, and is used as fuel, whilst formerly it was used in brewing, tanning, and dyeing. It is the bed of the mountaineer, and one not to be despised. It forms the badge of the clan M'Donell.

The crimson or fine-leaved heath, Erica cinerea, with leaves in whorls of three, and deep-red flowers also in whorls, occurs on lower moors often as abundantly as ling. It is the badge of the M'Alisters.

E. Tetralix, the cross-leaved heath, with four leaves in a whorl and an umbel of pale pink flowers is common, but seldom so abundant as the two before-mentioned. It is the badge of the M'Donalds.

There are several other species (E. vagans, E. citiaris), in Cornwall and Ireland, the headquarters of the group being South Africa. All heaths are rich in honey.