The ericas or heathers are a genus of over 700 varieties found in the wild in Europe, Africa, west and central Asia. They are generally found in temperate climate zones and only grow outside the tropical and subtropical regions in Africa and Asia. Ericas can be all sizes from small to shrubs which grow to the size of trees.

The majority of ericas come from South Africa and in general have long tubular flowers, but these varieties cannot withstand frost. Those found in Europe usually have white or pink flowers which do not make a great show but, in compensation, they can take winter conditions including frost.

We are going to write about two types of Erica which are found in the wild in Turkey. There are marked differences between the two types: Erica arborea can reach the height of a tree and flowers in spring; Erica Manipuliflora never grows to a height of more than 1m and flowers in autumn. The two types have the same common name in Turkish: brush plant (süpürge otu).

Erica arborea (pictured above): has needle-like leaves 3-7mm in length. The leaves are held on short stems, they have blunt edges and the undersides are deeply grooved. The leaves are found in groups of 3-4. Sweetly scented white flowers open on the short side branches in groups some 20-30cm in length. Flowers are bell-shaped with white petals some 4mm long. Fruits are oval and contain tiny seeds. Flowers bloom in the spring.

The plant can reach a height of 3-4m. Indeed, in equatorial Africa’s damp mountain ranges Erica arborea has been reported reaching a height of 6m. This frost resistant plant is found across a wide area from the Canary Islands, all around the shores of the Mediterranean, Iran, the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia and throughout equatorial Africa.

Erica manipuliflora: a shrub-like plant which can grow to a height of 1m. It is native to the Eastern Mediterranean, and in Turkey is found along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts growing within or adjacent to pine forests. It has thin, needle-shaped leaves, 3-7mm in length with sharp edges and dark green in colour. Rose pink flowers start to open towards the end of summer and continue to bloom through the autumn. Flowers are bell/pipe shaped, up to 10cm in length, produced in clumps. This plant withstands frost.

Both types of Erica share a liking for sun, and well-drained acidic or neutral soil. They do not thrive in an alkaline soil and do not welcome animal manure as a fertiliser. Propagation is from seed or cuttings taken at the end of summer.

In landscaping terms, especially where a natural look is aimed for, they can be planted underneath pines or other trees. They also do well on the edges of groups of trees, for example as part of golf course landscaping, or can form an informal border on both sides of a path.

The Palm Centre, Koycegeiz

For a wide range of special plants visit the areas best nursery, The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz.

It is open daily between 1st June – 31st October but you can visit at any other time by appointment.

Access to plant sales is free but a fee is payable to look around the extensive nursery.

Just ring or email (English is spoken):

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Tel : +90 252 262 28 92

Fax : +90 252 262 51 61

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