Calluna (Heather; Common Heather; Scottish Heather)
Calluna, also known as Heather, is a genus in the Ericaceae family. The sole species in this genus is Calluna vulgaris, an evergreen flowering shrub with hundreds of vibrant, bell shaped flowers that bloom in late summer. Calluna vulgaris is native to Europe, North Africa and temperate Asia. Although it is most often associated with the rocky highlands of Scotland where it has grown for centuries, Calluna is widely spread around the world and grows on nearly every continent.
The name “Calluna” comes from the Greek word “kallunein”, which means “to cleanse” or “to brush”, in reference to cleaning implements and medicinal uses of the plant.
It is believed that the common name (“Heather”) is derived from the old Scottish word “haeddre”, which was seemingly used to describe a heathland or a shrubland habitat.
Calluna symbolizes independence, wealth and good fortune.
Interesting facts about Calluna:
Calluna and Erica
Calluna and Erica genera are commonly known as the Heathers (Calluna) and Heaths (Erica).
These plants are very similar in terms of form and growth habit. The genus Calluna was separated from the closely related genus Erica, mainly by the calyx of the flower, foliage type and winter hardiness.
Calluna in Scotland
Calluna, also known as “Scottish heather” or “Scotch heather”, is one of the most widely distributed plants in Scotland and one of the most enduring and recognizable symbols of Scotland. The plant was used by ancient Scots to treat all sorts of conditions and ailments. It grows from sea level to elevations of about 1000 metres.
According to legend, a young maiden named Malvina, daughter of the legendary Scottish poet Ossian was to be married to a brave Celtic warrior Oscar. Unfortunately, Oscar was killed in battle and the messenger delivered the horrible news. The messenger also delivered a spray of purple heather that Oscar had sent to her. When Malvina received a massage, she was heartbroken and inconsolable. As her tears fell upon the heather, the purple flowers turned into white ones. After that, Malvina decided that anyone who came across a white heather would be blessed with good fortune.
Benefits and Uses
Calluna has a long history of medicinal use. It has anti-microbial, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and diuretic properties.
It was used as an herbal remedy to treat diarrhea, stomach pain, colic, arthritis, gout, rheumatism, cough and cold. The plant is considered good for urinary passages and prostate problems. It has also traditional uses as a mild sedative.
The stalks of the plant were used to create musical instruments, jewelry and ropes.
This flower comes in shades of red, purple, pink and white.
This plant grows between 30 to 60 cm (1-2 ft) tall.
Calluna grows best in acidic, moist and well drained soil.