A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.

Erica tetralix L.

Cross-leaved Heath

Modern name

Erica tetralix L.

A low shrub 6 to 18 in. high, with the older stems spreading or prostrate, the young flower-bearing ones erect; young shoots downy. Leaves arranged in whorls of four, forming a cross, narrower than in E. ciliaris, and averaging 18 in. long; dark green above, white beneath, edged with glandular hairs, and downy. Flowers in a dense head of from four to twelve or more blossoms. Corolla cylindrical, 14 in. long, rose-coloured, contracted at the mouth, where are four shallow recurved lobes. Sepals like the leaves, but more hairy; flower-stalk and seed-vessel downy.

Native of N. and W. Europe, and common throughout the British Isles, where it is abundant in wet heaths and moors. It blossoms from June to October, and although so common in a wild state is well worth planting in masses in the garden. It is sometimes confused with E. ciliaris, under which the distinctions between the two are pointed out.

f. alba (Ait.) Braun-Blanquet – Flowers white; not uncommon in the wild state.

cv. ‘Alba Mollis’. – Flowers white; foliage distinctly greyish, due to the abundant whitish down on the leaves and stems. The whole plant has a frosted appearance.

cv. ‘Con Underwood’. – Large crimson flowers; foliage silvery.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

† ‘Pink Star’. – Flowers star-like, bright pink, held upright. Foliage grey. The original plant was found growing wild in Cornwall.



Other species in the genus