It always amazes me how you can go for a walk in Scotland and after half an hour you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. I went out walking on Saturday to try and tick off a few more Munros and thankfully although it was very windy, the rain held off. As soon as I stepped foot out of the car I noticed all the heather. Obviously, it is always there, but it really comes into its own at this time of year. The dainty heather flowers have the magical ability to turn the hills of Scotland purple. Even without the sun shining, this scrubby little plant really brightened up the view.
Although a nightmare to walk through; it proves to have many medicinal properties and is full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. It contains the anti-inflammatory, quercitin, which can be used in treating inflammation of the gut, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. Heather can also be used in herbal tea, which can induce sleepiness and calm the nerves. The flowers and shoots used to be dried and put in bedding for the same effect.
The latin for heather is Calluna vulgaris, vulgaris means common and calluna comes from the Greek, to sweep clean. Traditionally people would have made a type of broom known as a besom with the stems of the heather plant. Heather isn’t only useful to people, it is also the food plant for the aptly named heather beetle and the small emperor moth.
It is not necessary to head to the highlands for the scent of this beautiful flower, we have it here at the Falls of Clyde and it can be found in the surrounding upland areas.
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger