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in botany, common name for some members of the Ericaceae, a family of chiefly evergreen shrubs with berry or capsule fruits. Plants of the heath family form the characteristic vegetation of many regions with acid soils, particularly the moors, swamps, and mountain slopes
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(Calluna), a genus of plants of the family Ericaceae, represented by only one species (C. vulgaris). A low evergreen shrub, usually 30-70 cm high, it has numerous small, sessile, almost trihedral leaves that are tegularly arranged in four layers. The flowers are also small and numerous on young branches in more or less unilateral racemes; the corolla is lilac pinkish, sometimes white, shorter than the bright, laminated calyx, which is colored like the corolla.
Heather grows in pine forests, in burned-out forests, and in peat bogs, often forming dense thickets. It is found in Europe, predominantly in the northern half, Asia (mainly in the western portion), North Africa (Morocco), the Azores, Greenland, and the Atlantic coast of America. Heather is a good nectar-bearer but gives a tart, or even bitter, honey; it had fodder value, especially in the Atlantic countries of Western Europe. Flowering branches are used as winter bouquets. Sometimes representatives of the genus Erica are also called heather.
M. K. KIRPICHNIKOV