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.
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