Heather Calluna vulgaris

Heather is also known as ‘Ling’ and is an abundant plant on heathland, moors, bogs and even in woodland with acidic or peat soils. Its delicate pink flowers appear from July to October and are a contrast to the tough, wiry, sprawling stems they grow upon. Plants grow tightly-packed together and can live for up to 40 years.


The stems of heather are woody and coarse, sometimes clumped together and close to the ground in exposed areas. The delicate pink flowers grow loosely up the stem and the short, narrow leaves are borne in rows.


Height: up to 90cm




Common in the UK and Ireland, but scarcer in the east of England.

When to see

January – December


  • Historically, heather has been used for many purposes including as fuel, fodder, building materials, thatch, packing and ropes. It was also once used to make brooms which is how it got its Latin name: Calluna is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘to brush’.
  • Heather ale was made in Scotland for thousands of years – archaeologists have found traces of an alcoholic drink made from heather on shards of pottery more than 3,000 years old!

Common name


Species name

Calluna vulgaris

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Red Moss of Balerno or Grey Hill Grasslands

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