Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION


Scientific name: Calluna vulgaris
Heather is also called 'ling'. Look for it on our heaths, moors and bogs, where its delicate, loosely arranged pink flowers attract all kinds of nectar-loving insects.

Species information


Height: up to 90cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Heather is also known as 'ling' and is an abundant plant on heathland, moorland, bogs and even in woodland with acidic or peat soils. Its delicate pink flowers appear from August 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 or more.

How to identify

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.


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

Did you know?

Historically, heather has been used for many purposes, such as fuel, fodder, building materials, thatch, packing and ropes. It was also used to make brooms, which is how it got its Latin name - Callunais derived from the Greek word meaning 'to brush'.