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Common Name: Fire Heath
Erica cerinthoides is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
S. Africa from the Cape to northern Transvaal and Swaziland.
Dry flats and in the mountains[
]. Found in a variety of habitats from the coastal plains to to tops of mountains[
Requires a light lime-free loam[
]. A calcifuge plant, requiring a pH below 6[
]. Prefers a well-drained acidic soil with a pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.7[
]. Grows best in a poor soil[
]. Prefers an open situation[
This species is unlikely to be hardy in Britain. One report suggests that it can be grown in the milder areas[
], but another says that it is not frost-tolerant[
]. This species is not tolerant of severe frosts, though it will usually resprout if the growth is killed by lighter frosts[
An extremely variable species, varying particularly in growth habit, hairiness of leaves and flowers, and in size, shape and colour of its flowers[
In the wild the plant is often burnt down in fires, resprouting from the base[
]. Indeed, this regular burning keeps the plant healthy and, in cultivation, it is advisable to prune the plant back hard each year and to dress it with a light dressing of bonfire soil[
A good bee plant[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
The flowers are sucked for their abundant sweet nectar[
The plant is fire-resistant.
Seed - surface sow in a sandy compost in a cold frame in spring. Keep moist. Prick out the plants as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them in their permanent positions when they are 5 - 8cm tall[
]. The seed usually germinates after about six weeks and the seedlings are delicate in their early stages[
]. Particular care should be taken to water gently and to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight[
]. Seedlings may be planted out into individual bags or pots once they have grown to a height of at least 1 cm, but should only be planted out in the garden once they have grown to about 10 cm[
]. Plant out in late spring, after the danger of late frosts, and give protection over winter for their first year or two[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3cm long taken from twiggy lateral growths near the base of the plant, mid summer in a frame. Remove the leaves from the bottom part of the stem without causing any damage to the bark. The cuttings root in a few weeks if they are given some bottom heat. Plant out in spring[
Layering in spring or autumn. Plants can be 'dropped' and then dug up and divided about 6 - 12 months later. Dropping involves digging up the plant and then replanting it about 15 - 20cm deeper in the soil to encourage roots to form along the stems[