Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Calluna vulgaris--Heather

I had never heard of Calluna before I saw this plant. No wonder! This is the only plant in the genus! When you read about the heath, heather or moorland of Europe, this is the plant that predominates. It almost everywhere in Britain and Ireland. This specimen at the UC Botanical Garden, Mrs Ronad Gray, is very low-growing. Other varieties are taller. Heather was once used for making brooms, but I think it must have been one that grows more than one foot tall. Anybody try Bach Flower Remedies? The Calluna vulgaris tincture is for people who are obsessed with themselves, but don't like to be alone. Interesting...It is also supposed to cure coughs and sleeplessness. Carry this plant with you to avoid violent crime. Burn with fern to start rain. I don't really believe it, but I don't have any data, so I withhold judgment.

More than half of all ornamental plants are on someone's weed list, and this includes Calluna. In Australia, it can threaten biodiversity and cause environmental damage. In fact, in New Zealand, they imported a Calluna eating beetle, Lochmaea suturalis, to use as a biocontrol. Meanwhile, in
the Netherlands, people are concerned that this same beetle will destroy the Calluna. So, this insect can be your friend or your enemy, depending on your location.

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