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Bell Heather

This well-known heather is a prolific nectar producing plant, attracting many pollinating insects including honey bees, and it is a useful source for heather honey.  It grows on drier heath and moorland throughout Scotland though it is more common in the West. It can be so prolific on moorland and heath that when it flowers it can alter the colour of vast expanses of land. 

Bell heather is a stocky dwarf shrub which produces many branched woody stems which curve upright. These stems are only hairy as young shoots and grow to become glabrous. The leaves grow in whorls of 3, and are 5 to 7mm long, narrow, pointed, needle-like and straight edged. The edges of the leaves curve under slightly. All leaves are hairless on Bell Heather, unlike Cross-leaved Heath which is a much hairier plant. 

Flowers grow many to a stem head, on tiny stalks. They are pink and nodding like little bells. Hence the name. Larger than the flowers of plain Heather (Calluna vulgaris) they are about 4 -7mm in length with 4 fused petals forming the bell, which opens into a narrow mouth at the end to reveal a projecting pink stigma on a long style. Nestling inside the bell are 8 shorter stamens.

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