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Corsican Heath

Erica terminalis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, wasteland.

Pink, 4 petals
Many rose pink bell-shaped flowers which appear inside terminal clusters at the ends of the branches.
The fruit is a capsule which produces its seeds.
A bushy evergreen shrub with leaves that are glossy and needle-like. The leaves are in whorls of 4 to 6 along the branches.
Other Names:
Terminal Heath, Upright Heath.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Erica terminalis, also known as the terminal heath, is a species of flowering plant that is native to the mountains of Europe and western Asia. It is a low-growing evergreen shrub that typically grows to be about 60 cm tall. The leaves are needle-like and are arranged in whorls around the stem. The plant has spikes of small, urn-shaped, pink, or white flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring. The plant is commonly found in rocky, well-drained soils and it is drought-tolerant once established. It is also used as an ornamental plant and it is popular as a garden plant, particularly for rock gardens, low hedges, and ground cover. The species name terminalis refers to the fact that the flowers are borne at the tips of the branches.


Corsican Heath, also known as Erica terminalis, is a beautiful flowering plant that is native to the Mediterranean region, specifically to the island of Corsica. It is a member of the heath family, Ericaceae, which includes other well-known plants such as rhododendrons and blueberries.

The Corsican Heath is a small evergreen shrub that typically grows up to 60 cm in height. Its narrow, dark green leaves are about 1 cm long and have a needle-like shape. The plant blooms in early spring, producing numerous small pink or white bell-shaped flowers that are arranged in clusters at the tips of its branches. The flowers are highly fragrant and attract bees and other pollinators.

One of the most striking features of the Corsican Heath is its adaptability to different growing conditions. It can thrive in a variety of soil types, from sandy to loamy, and can grow in both full sun and partial shade. It is also tolerant of drought and can survive in areas with low rainfall.

The Corsican Heath is an important part of the Mediterranean ecosystem, providing food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, including birds, bees, and butterflies. It has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory problems and digestive issues.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, the Corsican Heath is also highly valued for its ornamental qualities. It is a popular garden plant in many parts of the world, prized for its delicate, fragrant flowers and year-round foliage. It is often used in rock gardens, as a border plant, or as a container plant.

However, despite its popularity, the Corsican Heath is also facing some threats. Habitat loss and degradation due to human activities, such as urbanization and agriculture, have led to a decline in its population. In addition, the plant is vulnerable to overgrazing by livestock, which can damage its delicate foliage.

Efforts are being made to conserve the Corsican Heath and its habitat. Some areas where the plant grows have been designated as protected areas, and conservation organizations are working to raise awareness of its importance and to promote its conservation.

The Corsican Heath is a beautiful and adaptable plant that plays an important ecological and cultural role in the Mediterranean region. Its fragrant flowers, year-round foliage, and adaptability make it a valuable addition to any garden, but it is also a reminder of the need to protect and conserve our natural heritage.

The Corsican Heath has a long history of traditional uses, especially in Corsica, where it is known as "erica" or "erba corsa". The plant has been used for centuries by the local people for a variety of purposes, such as making brooms, weaving baskets, and treating various ailments.

One of the traditional uses of the Corsican Heath is in the production of a local alcoholic beverage called "myrtle liqueur". The plant's leaves and flowers are steeped in alcohol to create a sweet, aromatic liqueur that is popular among locals and tourists alike.

In addition to its cultural significance, the Corsican Heath has also attracted scientific interest due to its potential medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. These properties have led to investigations into the potential use of the plant in the development of new drugs and therapies.

The Corsican Heath is also an important source of food for some wildlife, including the Corsican Finch, a bird species endemic to Corsica. The plant's nectar and pollen provide essential nutrients for the bird, which plays an important role in pollinating the plant.

Conservation efforts for the Corsican Heath include habitat restoration and protection, as well as the establishment of seed banks and research programs to better understand the plant's biology and ecology. In addition, education and outreach programs have been developed to raise awareness of the plant's importance and to encourage its conservation.

The Corsican Heath is also an excellent example of the unique biodiversity of the Mediterranean region, which is home to a wide range of plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world. The plant's ability to survive in harsh environmental conditions, such as drought and poor soil quality, is a testament to its remarkable adaptability and resilience.

In addition to its ecological and cultural importance, the Corsican Heath has also been the subject of artistic and literary inspiration. The plant's delicate flowers and fragrant scent have inspired poets, artists, and writers for centuries, and it has been featured in many works of art and literature.

One example of the Corsican Heath's literary significance is in the novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas. In the novel, the plant is used as a symbol of the island of Corsica, where the protagonist, Edmond Dantès, spends time before his eventual return to Paris. The plant is described as a beautiful, fragrant reminder of the natural beauty of the island, and as a symbol of hope and renewal.

In conclusion, the Corsican Heath is a remarkable plant that has played a significant role in the cultural, ecological, and scientific history of the Mediterranean region. Its adaptability, resilience, and unique beauty make it a valuable asset to the world's natural heritage, and its conservation is essential to the preservation of this important ecosystem. The plant's significance in literature and art is a testament to its enduring cultural relevance, and serves as a reminder of the deep connection between humans and the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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