views updated May 23 2018

Erica (heaths; family Ericaceae) A genus of shrubs and a few trees in which the leaves are leathery and small. The flowers are bell-like, with a disc. E. arborea of southern Europe is bruyère, whose roots provide briar pipes. There are 665 species, occurring from Europe to Asia Minor and the African mountains, and species are very numerous in S. Africa, with 580 in the southern Cape, of which 520 are endemic (see ENDEMISM). Cape species are generally larger and more showy than European ones.


views updated May 17 2018

erica Genus of more than 500 species of mostly low, evergreen shrubs comprising true heaths and heathers. Most species are native to Africa, but many grow on moors in Britain and other parts of Europe. Blossoms are colourful and tube-shaped or bell-shaped. Family Ericaceae.