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A low-growing or dwarf evergreen shrub reaching up to 60cm in height, with spike-like racemes of small, pink or pale purple 4-petalled flowers from mid-summer to autumn, and small, narrow, linear leaves. It grows in well-drained acidic soil in full sun, and is propagated by seed in spring, or softwood cuttings, division or layering in summer. It is not generally susceptible to pests, but may experience fungal or root diseases if grown in warmer locations.
The Royal Horticultural Society Gardening Advice


Heather has been used as a urinary antiseptic and diuretic for bladder and kidney disorders and cystitis, disinfecting the urinary tract and mildly increasing urine production. The flowering shoots are also astringent, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, expectorant, mildly sedative and vasoconstricting, with an infusion of the flowering shoots being used in the treatment of coughs and colds. As a cleansing and detoxifying plant, it has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and gout. The plant was historically macerated and made into a liniment for treating rheumatism and arthritis, whilst a hot poultice was a traditional remedy for chilblains. The flowering stems are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.
Plants for a Future (2019) (

Geographical distribution

  • Africa, Macaronesia
  • Africa, Northern Africa
  • Asia-Temperate, Siberia
  • Asia-Temperate, Western Asia
  • Australasia
  • Europe
  • Northern America

Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull

Genus: Calluna
Species: vulgaris (L.) Hull
Common names: Heather
Distribution summary: Africa, Asia, Europe, N. America, Australasia
Conservation status (IUCN Red List): Not Evaluated
Habit: Shrub
Hardiness: H7 - Very hardy
Habitat: Acidic soils, heathland, moorland
Garden status: Currently grown
Garden location: Plants in pots (POT)
Flowering months: July, August
Reason for growing: Medicinal

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