White heather (Erica arborea)

white heather

Today we are going to talk about a pretty pretty plant to decorate both indoors and outdoors. It is about the white heather. Its scientific name is Tree heather. It is a high shrub with many branches with heights of 2 to 4 meters whose flowers are quite precious for decoration.

In this article we are going to tell you all the details about its characteristics, ecology and flowering, as well as the care it requires to beautify our garden. If you want to learn more about white heather, this is your post.

Characteristics and ecology

erica arborea flowers

It is a shrub whose young twigs have a whiter color and uneven hairs. The bark of the branches and the trunk is brown and fibrous in texture when it has grown and is developing. The leaves are hairless like the branches, but they are characterized by having scrambled edges towards the underside. This makes it look like it has grooves on the underside. They are quite thin and narrow.

In any case, the most important thing about these shrubs are their flowers. Whitish and sometimes pink in color, they are all the detail you need to beautify our garden. They are smaller in size and have a corner to help support them. In general, they tend to grow in terminal groups and take the shape of a pyramid. As they mature, they acquire a narrower, closed bell shape.

La Tree heather is a plant that grows in acidic soils and it is characteristic of habitats composed of humid forests. It grows either in these places or in areas where there are water courses and a high level of environmental humidity is maintained. When the heather is grouped in very continuous areas and there is a great variety of individuals, it is called heaths.

The area of ​​potential growth is in areas from a height close to sea level up to 2000 meters high. From that altitude it cannot find suitable environmental conditions for its correct growth. Depending on the area where they grow, they are capable of becoming true trees. For example, the white heather that is so much in the Canaries as in Africa are capable of exceeding 10 meters in height. Therefore, when we go to these areas we can see complete dense forests of this species.

Distribution and uses of Tree heather

detail of the flowers of erica arborea

If we approach the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands we see that they are simple branchy bushes. It is, in general, a fairly dispersed species and lives mainly in the Mediterranean region. He can also be seen in the Canaries, Madeira, Asia Minor, the Caucasus and North and East Africa. In each place it has different characteristics due to the existing environmental properties. For example, as we have mentioned before, humidity is a determining factor when it comes to its growth.

The distribution where the "originality" of these shrubs is appreciated is both in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Balearic Islands where they have an uneven extension.

Regarding its uses, white heather has some traditional uses such as for the manufacture of brooms. This was done in ancient times thanks to dense and fine branches that are perfect for sweeping. It was also used to make some palisades, canopies and shelters against the wind, sun, rain and to provide some privacy.

The firewood that it has thanks to its numerous branches serves as quality fuel and one of the best for the manufacture of charcoal in furnaces and forges. The wood is quite sought after by cabinetmakers and turners to prepare some carvings.

One of the most widespread uses today is as an ornamental plant. Although there are some other species of heather that have the most showy flowers, the Tree heather it has enough beauty to decorate exteriors.

In recent years, it has been used for reforestation with some other indigenous plants. It is good for reforestation since it helps to form a very nutritious substrate that is perfect for growing garden plants. By having more nutrients in the soil, the plants we grow can fully form and develop for several years in the soil of shady heaths.

White heather care


If we want to have this plant in our garden we must take into account some factors for its correct growth. The first thing is to have a fairly well drained soil. We cannot forget that if the soil does not allow the drainage of the water, it will have problems of water clogging. If the soil is flooded we will cause the roots to be drowned and die. In addition, it does not allow good aeration for the correct development of the plant.

We can't have the Tree heather on calcareous soils. Transplants must be done in the spring or autumn season where there is more rainfall but the temperature is high enough for the plant to adapt well to the new conditions.

With regard to irrigation, we must water the plant in a more moderate way. They are good at resisting times of drought, so we should not worry too much about them if the soil has become somewhat dry. In fact, the most advisable thing is to water once you see that the substrate is dry.

For better growth, we can fertilize the plant in the autumn time with mulch or natural compost.

Maintenance and reproduction

erica arborea in winter

This plant does not require much maintenance, but we can do some pruning to remove the oldest branches and flower spikes that are wilted. This pruning is done in late spring when the weather is more pleasant and it can adapt well to new conditions. Never do it when there may be some frost as it would be deadly for the plant.

Being easy to grow plants and quite resistant it does not generate problems with pests or diseases. Therefore, it is ideal for our garden. We can multiply them from seeds in spring or by cuttings in late summer.

I hope you can beautify the garden with the Tree heather.

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