Ling Heather - Calluna Vulgaris - Western Isles Pink Wildflowers

Bell Heather - Western Isles Wildflowers

Ling Heather -Pink Wildflowers
Ling Heather - one of the three types of heather which we see in the Western Isles.

A really pretty pale pink - mauve heather with dense terminal flower spikes and sepal-like bracts at flower bases.

The tiny lilac flowers are not bell shaped as are the other two heathers that grow here. The plants growing up to 2 feet in height.

Cross Leaved Heath Heather
Erica tetralix, Cross leaved Heath heather also has bell shaped flowers.

Slightly paler pink in colour, this heather prefers wetter places and grows around the wet moorland and bogs, alongside bog asphodel.....
Cross Leaved Heath Heather


Bell Heather - Erica cinerea
The purple or bell heather- Erica cinerea, commences flowering in early June.

This heather likes the dryer places and so grows on rocks or dry moorland. As suggested by its common name the flowers are bell shaped.

.. Bell Shaped Heather

Ling Heather -Pinky Purple - Lilac Wild Flowers
Seen All Over The Western Isles, this lovely heather with its pretty pinky purple Spikes of urn-shaped wildflowers are the last of the three types of heather to show their faces in the Hebrides.

It is a woody-stemmed and evergreen shrub which has many branches. It is quite prolific as the branches can take root easily. The branches also have lots of side shoots.

The plant reaches 50 - 60cm in height. This heather prefers acid soils.


Meaning of the Name Calluna
The latin name Calluna derived from the Greek word kalluno meaning "to sweep". Ling heather was used in times gone by to make brushes.

It was tied in bundles to a handle. THese brushes were used inside the houses.

Water Evaporation
Ling heather is to be be found on the drier hummocks of the bogs. Its tiny leaves are covered in a waxy coat to conserve water as the peat at its roots can sometimes dry out during the summer

As the leaves of the ling heather are small and are in rolled, water loss is prevented and there isn't so much water lost from evaporation which means that this plant copes well in extreme weather conditions and flowers for a long time.

Click pictures below for larger photographs
Ling Heather - Calluna Vulgaris
The last heather to flower, in July is the Ling heather which flowers on the heaths & moors.

Ling heather likes a slightly drier acidic ground than the other two heathers seen here in The Western Isles, but still thrives well....
Ling Heather


Heather at THe Broch at Carloway - Western Isles
Pink Wildflowers-Bell Heather Hebrides

Roots of Ling Heather

The roots of ling heather are are surrounded by a mesh of fungal threads growing into the roots. They help the roots in getting minerals and water from the peat in exchange for sugars produced in the leaves of the heather. These are called mycorrhiza.

Ling Heather conserves nutrients on the bog using its evergreen leaves. This means that the plant uses the leaves to make food for more than one year which is why the ling heather is so prolific.

Pink Wildflowers  - Ling Heather
There are 3 Types of Heather on The Western Isles
Each of these Has a very different appearance and likes very different habitats and conditions.
a)Bell Heather b) Cross Leaved Heath Heather and c) Ling Heather
Ling Heather

The fact that the ling heather flowers for a long period means of course that it is an excellent source of pollen for the insects. It is very good for the bees and butterflies.

The leaves growing on the branches are 1 - 3 mm. long, stalk-less and grow in four vertical rows. They are oblong and opposite. The leaves are tightly packed together on the side shoots, but more openly spaced on the main branches. The leaves are scale-like in appearance, with the edges curling in, and are dark green in colour, with reddish-brown tips when they are new. The short, narrow leaves are borne in 4 rows along stems

Ling Heather is Used in Wine and Beers - Tea
The flowers of Ling Heather are brewed used in drinks. They are brewed into wine and also used in several ales. The flowers are also used in the production of a kind of "tea" drink..


Lilac Heather - Western Isles

Ling Heather used in Honey
The heather of course also produces excellent honey

Lifespan of Heather.

Heather has a long lifespan and can live up to 40 years

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

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