categoryZShrubs Shrubs List 
categoryZEvergreen Evergreen List 

CROSS-LEAVED HEATH

Erica tetralix

Heather Family [Ericaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept month8oct

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Evergreen
status
statusZnative
flower
flower8pink
inner
inner8red
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZclustered
type
typeZbell
stem
stem8round
sex
sexZbisexual

2nd July 2003, top'o'moors, Crow Chin, Stanage Edge, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD


2nd July 2003, top'o'moors, Crow Chin, Stanage Edge, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD
It often has a hoary appearance due to many short hairs.


29th June 2004, Nr. Thornhill Carrs, Bamford, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD
This specimen is not as hoary as the others (maybe it is a hybrid??).


2nd July 2003, top'o'moors, Crow Chin, Stanage Edge, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD


2nd July 2003, top'o'moors, Crow Chin, Stanage Edge, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD


29th June 2004, Nr. Thornhill Carrs, Bamford, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD
Here the young leaves (centre of photo) are flat and have not yet inrolled


29th June 2004, Nr. Thornhill Carrs, Bamford, Pk. Dist. Photo: © RWD
The early stages of the bunches of flowers, still growing. Top right shows them in a slightly more advanced stage of development curving downwards on short stalks, but they will grow larger and cluster in one direction.


11th Sept 2005, Grammars Common, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The flowers are a longish 5 to 9mm long with an inflated appearance.
[Heather left; Cross-leaved Heather right]


8th July 2015, Arne, Purbeck, Dorset Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Here there are 12 flowers in a tight cluster. The style in the centre will start to protrude slightly from the small opening with 4 very short recurved petals at the end.


11th Sept 2005, Grammars Common, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The flowers are tightly clustered together all facing in much the same direction at an angle downwards.


8th July 2015, Arne, Purbeck, Dorset Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The leaves are between 2 to 5mm long, have many short hairs and a few long glandular hairs. They are inrolled at the edges making them look thinner than what they really are. They also have a stalk extending only a sort way down the main stem, ending with a brown blob. The stems are similarly hairy giving a hoary appearance to the whole plant.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
A straggly shrub growing to 70cm high. It prefers wet heaths and moors, here next to shallow water.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
Those flower lower left are in their early stages of development, and appear red rather than pink.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The flowers of those shoots on the left are in their early stages of development and look very fuzzy with hairs.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are short, in whorls of 4, angled upwards and are fairly well separated giving a good view of the stem, which has many short glandular hairs.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The tight bunch of pink flowers droops downwards, but when fruiting the flower bunch turns upwards and changes colour to orange.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The sepals at the rear of each flower are glandular hairy and out-rolled at the edges, giving a very messy appearance at the rear of the small tight cluster of flowers.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The flowers go orange as they mature probably due to chemical changes of the pink pigment. The style protrudes slightly from the constricted opening with 4 short petals which are slightly reflexed. The stigma is discoidal.


10th July 2009, near a tarn, Haystacks, Lake District. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are in whorls of four, have short glandular hairs with pink-purple glands at their tips. The leaves are inrolled at their margins.


Cross-leaved Heath is the next most common Heath/Heather to Heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Bell Heather (Erica cinerea). It prefers a more moist location than those two and is to be found in wet heaths, moors and bogs, usually on upland acid areas. The flowers are a rose-pink, or orange when turning to fruit. The fruit capsules are hairy (none shown).

Hybridizes with :

  • Mackays Heath (Erica mackayana) to produce Erica × stuartii which occurs only near the locations of Mackay's Heath (which is a very rare [RRR]), and occurs only in Ireland near Mackay's Heath, namely in South Kerry, Western Donegal, West Mayo and West Galway. This hybrid is completely sterile.
  • Cornish Heath (Erica vagans) (which is a very rare [RRR]) to produce Erica × williamsii which is found in small groups on the Lizard Peninsular in West Cornwall, has more resemblance to Cornish Heath, has hairy leaves when young and is sterile. It is a commonly sold cultivar.
  • Dorset Heath (Erica ciliaris) (which is a very rare [RRR]), to produce Erica × watsonii which has leaves more like those of Cross-leaved Hath, but flowers which are closer to those of Dorset Heath but with very short appendages. It is highly sterile, but can also backcross in Dorset.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The shape of the flowers, their one-sided compact clump only at the summit of a flower stalk, and the short incurved leaves which are in neat regular arrays of 4 up the stem, and their more greyish appearance from afar because of their (usually) many hairs.

No relation to : Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes) [a bedstraw with a similar name].


  Erica tetralix  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ericaceae  

Distribution
 family8Heather family8Ericaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Erica
Erica
(Heaths)

CROSS-LEAVED HEATH

Erica tetralix

Heather Family [Ericaceae]