Ling, Scotch heather. Calluna vulgaris. A monotypic genus of evergreen shrubs which is found from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, following the seaboard of Western Europe. Heather is commonplace on the moorlands of northern Europe but it is also found on the dry lowland heaths of western Europe. Man has made good use of heather through the ages using it for thatching, ropes, bedding and has even made ale from it! Perhaps the most well known use, today, is heather honey.

The name Calluna derives from the Greek word kallunein which means to cleanse, which probably derives from the use of heather twigs as brooms, or from its medicinal properties for treatment of a number of internal disorders. The word heather is thought to derive from a Scottish word haeddre but many variations can be found dating from the 14th century. Another word from that time is the Norse word lyng meaning light (as in weight) no doubt alluding the practice of cutting heather turf for fuel (which is light when dry, compared to grass turf), yet another use of this versatile plant.

The species is very variable, from prostrate to erect and spreading, with leaves ranging in colour from dark green to bright green, grey, yellow, orange and red which can be glabrous or hairy. The flowering time varies; in the southern part of the distribution it blooms from August to November.


"...a tumbled heathland, grown with ling and broom  ..." [Back to Herblore]


Ling in bloom