Heath and Heather
In the Garden
Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
*Also known as Scotch heather
Hybrid Heath (Erica × darleyensis)
Winter Heath (E. carnea syn. E. herbacea)
*Also known as spring heath and winter flowering heather
Although heath and heather are nearly identical and the names are often used interchangeably, there is a simple way to tell them apart. Heath has needle-like foliage (think spruce tree) while heather has tiny, scale-like foliage (think cedar tree). Also, common heather is the only species in the Calluna genus.
Common heather grows in mounds from four to twenty inches tall. Depending on the variety, its bell-shaped flowers can be white, pink, purple, or red. Heather usually flowers from summer to late autumn, but it can bloom into December. The heaths also have bell-shaped flowers. Their needle-like foliage grows in whorls along the branches. Hybrid heath’s flower colors range from white to rosy. They bloom from November to April in mounds that can reach two feet tall. Winter heath can begin blooming as early as November with some varieties lasting through May. It typically grows in mounds six to nine inches tall.
In the past, both heath and heather were used for thatching roofs and making brooms. It had a wide range of other domestic uses including medicinal remedies. The flowers of common heather were used in a popular home brew called heather ale. The white variety of heather was considered a good luck charm and tucked into bridal bouquets.
The genus name Calluna comes from similar Latin and Greek words that have the same meaning of “brushing” or “sweeping.” 111 This is in reference to heather plants being bundled together and used as brooms.
Make a sachet using white flowers for a good luck charm. White and/or pink flowers placed on the altar for three days strengthens love spells. Place a sprig with purple flowers on your altar to foster a deeper connection with your spirit guides. Burn a few dried sprigs to invite clarity and awareness while developing psychic abilities. Burning heather and heath also supports spiritual healing. A sprig of heather or heath hung on a bedpost or placed on a nightstand enhances dream work and helps in interpreting messages. Grow heather or heath in your garden to aid in protecting your home.
Both heather and heath are associated with the element water, and their astrological influence comes from Venus. In addition to fairies, they are associated with the goddesses Arianrhod, Isis, and Venus.
Figure 38. Heather is associated with the ogham Ur.