Ericaceae - Heath Family
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The Heath Family (Ericaceae) contains about 100 genera and 3350 species of shrubs, trees, and perennial herbs. They are distributed throughout cooler regions of both hemispheres. Many cultivated ornamental plants such as Rhododendron and Azalea belong to this family. Blueberries and cranberries (Vaccinium) also belong to this family.
The regular flowers usually have a 5-lobed calyx and a corolla of either 5 lobes or 5 separate petals, with 5 or 10 stamens. The fruit is fleshy or dry, and usually partitioned into 5 seed-producing divisions. The “wood” of these plants is very dense, frequently resinous. The leaves are resinous too, and often glossy on the upper surface.
Ericaceae are excellent for native gardens, particularly Western Azalea and Huckleberry.

 
 
Guide to Identify Presented Species of the Heath Family
LOW, MAT-FORMING SHRUBS, LEAVES VERY SMALL AND NEEDLE-LIKE
Cassiope mertensiana - White Mountain-heather
Dwarf, evergreen shrub, 5-15 cm tall. Moist sites, montane to alpine.
Flowers white, bell-shaped, 4-7 mm long, nodding, on 10-25 mm long stalks.
Leaves scale-like, thick, 2-5 mm long, in 4 vertical rows obscuring stem.
Phyllodoce empetriformis - Pink Mountain-heather
Dwarf, evergreen shrub, 10-40 cm tall. Moist, open sites, montane-alpine.
Flowers pink, bell-shaped, 5-8 mm long, with short, rolled back lobes.
Leaves alternate, needle-like, 5-12 mm long, crowded
like a bottle brush.
LOW, MAT-FORMING SHRUBS, LEAVES BROADER
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Bearberry
Evergreen, trailing shrub, 5-15 cm tall. Well-drained, mostly wooded areas.
Flowers pink, about 5 mm long, in clusters, the corolla urn-shaped, 5-lobed.
Leaves alternate, spoon-shaped, 1.5-3 cm long, dark green and glossy above.
Kalmia microphylla - Alpine Laurel
Dwarf, evergreen shrub, 5-20 cm tall. Moist to wet sites, subalpine and alpine.
Flowers deep pinkish-rose, 5-12 mm broad, with broad, shallow lobes.
Leaves
opposite, dark green, glossy above, narrowly elliptic, 1-2 cm long.
LEAVES LEATHERY, IN WHORLS AROUND STEM, BASAL LACKING
Chimaphila umbellata - Prince's Pine
Evergreen shrub, 10-30 cm tall. Dry, coniferous woods, foothills to montane.
Flowers light pink, waxy, 10-15 mm wide, nodding, few on raised stems.
Leaves in whorls of 3-8, narrowly spoon-shaped, sharply toothed.
HERBS, LEAVES LEATHERY, ALL BASAL OR ON LOWER PART OF STEM
Moneses uniflora - One-flowered Wintergreen
Evergreen herb, 3-15 cm tall. Moist woods, montane to subalpine zone.
Flowers white, single and terminal, nodding, fragrant, 1.5-2.5 cm broad.
Leaves basal, the blades almost round, 1-2.5 cm long, tapering to the stalks.
Pyrola asarifolia - Pink Wintergreen
Evergreen herb, 10-30 cm tall. Moist, usually wooded sites, foothills-subalpine.
Flowers pale pink, 8-12 mm wide, with a long, curved, projecting style.
Leaves in basal rosettes,
leathery, shiny, broadly elliptic to heart-shaped.
TALLER SHRUBS WITH LEATHERY LEAVES AND SHOWY FLOWERS
Ledum glandulosum - Trapper's Tea
Evergreen, leafy shrub, 40-80 cm tall. Moist to wet sites, montane to subalpine.
Flowers white, 10-15 mm wide, in dense, rounded clusters. Stamens long.
Leaves 1.5-4 cm long, elliptic-oblong, mealy below, with edges rolled under.
FLOWERS URN-SHAPED, SHRUBS WITH BERRIES, LEAVES NOT EVERGREEN
Vaccinium scoparium - Grouseberry
Small shrub, 10-35 cm tall, with red, tasty berries. Higher elevations.
Flowers pinkish, about 4 mm long, nodding, on stalks 2-2.5 mm long.
Leaves alternate, 8-15 mm long, thin, finely sharp-toothed, light-green, hairless.
Alphabetical listing with links to presented species of the Heath family:
     
Scientific Name English Name Swedish Name
 

 

 
Arctostaphylos
Cassiope
Chimaphila
Kalmia
Ledum
Moneses
Phyllodoce
Pyrola
Vaccinium
Bearberry
Heather
Prince's Pine
Laurel
Labrador Tea
Wintergreen
Mountain Heath
Wintergreen
Blueberry
Mjölon
Kantljungar
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Rylar
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-
-
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Ögonpyrolor
Lappljungar
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Pyrolor
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Skogsbär
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