Bell Heather - Purple Heather
Bell heather is a shorter plant than the Ling, growing 2feet like the cross leaved heath heather, whilst the ling heather grows a little taller. Bell heather likes typically likes drier places than the other two heathers we see here. The flowers are bell shaped and set against the darker green leaves the bright purple - pink wildflowers create stunning displays.
The "bell" flower is actually four petals fused together rand the reddish-purple flowers occur in groups. The bell heather likes the acidic soils and peaty conditions that are readily found here on The Western Isles.
Purple PInk Flowers Turn Brown
The pink purple flowers turn brown as the season ends and these tend to stay on the plant through some of the winter
A full grown plant can disperse up to half a million seeds per square metre each season. The seeds may lie in the top layers of the soil, ready to regenerate.
It has fine needle like leaves that are arranged in whorls of three
Nectar - Pollen of Bell Heather
Bell Heather is rich in nectar and pollen which attracts many insects especially the bees, and the honey that is created by the bees from this plant is a distinctive dark honey, with a great taste and it also smells beautiful.
Heather and Fungi - Thrive Together
Heather plants have a relationship with fungi which grows inside and between some of plant root cells. The plant thrives in the presence of the fungi and the fungi benefits from some of the plants nutrients
Lifespan of Heather
Heather has a long lifespan and can live up to 40 years (that is if its allowed to - in some parts Britain it is burnt off, leaving a cleared area such that grass for feeding the sheep can be left to grow)
Heather provides food for sheep, deer, birds, rabbits and hares
For various sheep and deer which can graze the tips of the plants when snow covers low-growing vegetation, the heather is an important food source. Various birds also use heather as a food source including the red grouse which feeds on the shoots, flowers and seeds. The Mountain and Brown Hare need young heather for browsing, they also use heather as a form of cover, the heather making them harder to spot for predators. Rabbits living on moorland also enjoy young shoots.
White Heather For Luck
Just once in a while you can find white Heather - where the flowers are white and it is said that if you find this you are going to be lucky, good luck will follow you. This story or folklore comes from it is said that in Scotland supposedly the pink purple variety had been stained by blood of the Picts and that the white type of heather was not stained and remained pure
Norway National Flower
Heather is Norway's national flower