Scientific name: Erica canaliculata
Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Bloom: Purple, pink bell-shaped flowers
Environment: Full sun to partial shade
Uses: Specimen plant
South Africa – 27D, 27G, 27J, 27L
Erica canaliculata Andrews, or Christmas heather, is an evergreen shrub that appears as a cloud of pink and purple when in bloom. A member of the Ericaceae, E. canaliculata is native to the Cape Provinces of South Africa.
Erica canaliculata was first published in 1802 by the English botanist, Henry C. Andrews in his text Coloured Engravings of Heath. Andrews wrote four volumes of Coloured Engravings of Heath between 1794 and 1830. In addition to describing species in these volumes, Andrews also included detailed illustrations of each species referenced in the text.
Erica canaliculata is native to the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa. There it is often found in forest margins, in addition to valleys and coastal plains. The species is pollinated by bees along with other insects. In the southern Cape coast plain, Christmas heather is quite common, and, at the time of writing, there are no known conservation threats to the species.
Christmas heather can grow anywhere from 4-6 ft tall, sometimes even found up to 15 ft in the wild, and about 4 ft wide. E. canaliculata is also referred to as channelled heath due to the grooves found in the stems of the shrub as it matures. The specific epithet, canaliculata, also references this characteristic, as it is derived from canaliculatus, meaning with channels or grooves.
A more immediately recognizable feature is the abundance of
purpley pink flowers. These small flowers are bell shaped, a common characteristic of plants in the Ericaceae family. The flowers also have pronounced dark anthers and a long white style that extend beyond the petals. The flower laden branches are popular when cut for decoration as well. Erica canaliculata is an evergreen shrub and requires full to partial shade.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and Profile by Victoria Stewart. Photos by Saxon Holt.