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Cross-Leaved Heath

Cross-leaved Heath is a kind of heather, and similar in appearance to Bell Heather (Erica cinerea). The main difference between it and Bell Heather is the position of the leaves which grow in whorls of four up the stem, forming a cross shape that gives the plant its name.  It prefers a damper ground than Bell Heather, and grows in bog and wet moorland throughout Scotland. Where the dampness is variable the two varieties can be seen growing near to each other. 

It is an evergreen shrub with erect and hairy stems which are slightly woody.  Up the stems at regular intervals grow a cross-shape of hairy greyish-green needle-shaped stalk-less leaves. 

The pink flowers grow in nodding clusters at the top of the stems, and are in the shape of an urn about 5 – 9mm in length. They have 4 fused petal lobes, forming the urn shape, and the lip of the urn is stained a deeper rose pink. Inside this are 8 stamens and a style with a deep purple stigma. The sepals are narrow with glandular sticky hairs on the edges. Scented flowers fill the summer air with a sweet heathery fragrance.

The fruit is a hairy capsule that grows within the petal tube and is protected by it.

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