Aug 06 2018

Purple spectacular!

Common Heather or Ling in flower for Heath Week!

Common Heather or Ling in flower for Heath Week! (credit James Giles)

Last week was Heath Week! Perfectly timed for heathland’s most spectacular moment! Working on the heaths all year round is never boring. There’s always something new to enjoy or anticipate! But the heather coming into flower must be the most anticipated moment of all!

Bell Heather (credit Martin D'Arcy)

Bell Heather (credit Martin D’Arcy)

We have three kinds of heather flowering on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area at the moment. Nightjar chicks, still hatching and being brooded by their parents at this time of year, emerge into a purple world!

The Bell Heather, Erica cinerea, is a beautifully vibrant splash of pink, and alive with nectar-loving insects. The Cross-leaved Heath, Erica tetralix, is another, named after its distinctive whorls of four grey-green leaves. This lovely plant adorns wetter areas of heathland all summer long, attracting pollinators to its clusters of subtle pink, bell-shaped flowers.

Cross-leaved Heath (credit Jonathan Shavelar)

Cross-leaved Heath (credit Jonathan Shavelar)

Then there’s the star of the show! Common Heather, also called Ling or Calluna vulgaris. It may have the smallest flowers, but when produced in such profusion, these tiny blooms put on a truly spectacular show! One of the highlights of my year!

Senior Warden Sarah.


Purple spectacular (credit Martin D'Arcy)

Purple spectacular (credit Martin D’Arcy)


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