With thousands of tiny flowers and evergreen leaves, several of the Garden's Erica species provide a welcome respite in a
period of the year when many other plants are dormant or otherwise not at their colorful peak.
Consisting of hundreds of species, Erica species are found in the wild from South Africa to Europe, all the way to West and
Central Asia. Most of the world's species are found in the fynbos of the Western and Eastern Cape
provinces of South Africa. The term "fynbos" is Dutch for "fine-leaved plants;" depending on locality,
heaths can comprise a significant portion of the flora.
Erica species are prostrate to tree-like, with most species forming shrubs up to 6 feet tall.
Arelative of rhododendrons and azaleas, heath species have a very similar flower color spectrum.
Including whites, pinks, red, purples, and yellows, their bell- to urn-shaped flowers are borne terminally
in racemes comprised of up to hundreds of flowers, depending on the species. Flowers occur on growth
from the previous year and can present in most seasons of the year, again differing by species.
Most heaths prefer well-drained, acidic soil in open sun. Water requirements can vary significantly by species. They originate
from mostly temperate areas, and even as prostrate ground covers and small shrubs they comprise the
overstory in their environments.
With the Garden's South African heaths and aloes, Asian magnolias and camellias, and Mesoamerican Cloud Forest giant groundsels
and melastomes, among many other gems, January's international floral display isn't to be missed!
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and Profile by Mona Bourell. Photos by Mona Bourell and Saxon Holt.