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Erica cerinthoides

   (Family: Ericaceae)
Afrikaans: Rooihaartjie, Klipheide English: Fire erica, Fire heath, Red hairy heath Sotho: Morita-nkoe  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 1 - 1.5m
Spread: 0.8m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (light)
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Clay (fine texture, holds a lot of water),
Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
pH: acid
Biome: Fynbos
Flowering time EDIT
        x x x x        
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Flower shape
Flower type
  birds, insects
  Flower info
  Clusters of inflated, densely hairy, tubular, red flowers at the ends of short branches. A white form does occur in the eastern Transvaal. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).
Leaf shape EDIT
Bark / Stem type
  Leaf info EDIT
  Dark green needle-like foliage cover the stems.
Sow seeds in Autumn
  Seed info EDIT
Description EDIT
Erica cerinthoides is an erect, evergreen shrub growing between 300-900mm tall, but can reach 1.5m if not burnt.
Has showy dark red, tubular clusters of flowers are clusters at the ends of the branches from end of May – June.
Growing EDIT
Needs well drained, preferably loamy, acidic and lime-free soil.

Prefers a sunny site where it will tolerate dry soils, but only light frost.

Erica cerinthoides is easily grown from seed or cuttings. Seed is sown in autumn and seed that has been treated with the "Instant Smoke Plus Seed Primer" smoke extract show improved germination. A suitable sowing medium consists of two parts acidic river sand : two parts composted pine bark : one part loam. Seedlings germinate after six weeks and are delicate in their early stages. Particular care should be taken to water gently and to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight
Distribution EDIT
Most widely distributed of the heaths in southern Africa. It occurs from the Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape, though the Eastern Cape, Transkei, Natal Drakensberg, into Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Swaziland, and as far north as the Soutpansberg in the Northern Province.
It is found in different habitats in the Cape where it grows from the coastal plains to the mountain tops.
History EDIT
Erica cerinthoides is named after the genus Cerinthe, the honey wort, because of the similarity of the flowers and their arrangement. Francis Masson first introduced Erica cerinthoides into cultivation in England, and it featured in the Botanical Magazine in 1794. It was a favourite species in cultivation at that time, but is seldom seen in cultivation these days.
Suitable for flat beds, or rockeries and do very well in containers.
The showy red flowers will attract bird pollinators to the garden.
Ecology EDIT
The common name of "Fire heath" relates to this plant because it is one of the few ericas that can resprout after a fire. In fact fire keeps this plant in good healthy condition and stimulates flowering at any time of the year.
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