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There are several varieties of heather in SCotland : Common or Ling Heather, Bell heather (Erica cinerea) and Cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) being the main ones. Here in West Dunbartonshire you most likely to find common heathereither  although this can be either purple or white. 

Of course, as with many lovely indigenous plants, there are always introduced species and the arteficially varigated hybrids. The Wiki link below gives a long list of other types.


You can find some great expanses of indigenous heather in West Dunbartonshrie. The photo below was taken on Carman Muir index.asp?pageid=717183, but you may well explore the Kilpatrick Hills. Although found across much of Britain, Scotland claims heather as its own. And West Dunbartonshire is no different.

We usually think of the usual colour of heather as a deep purple, but it can vary in hue and you may find some white heather locally. If the flowers are small and of the same form, these are all common heather. The SCOTLAND AT HEART website descibes some legends associated with it. See link below. Chris thorton writing on the LiveBreatheScotland notes that it has played a significant role in Scotland's history, folklore, and identity. For instance, heather has been used for centuries as a building material for thatching roofs, fuel for fires, and a traditional remedy for various ailments. Moreover, heather has been associated with Scottish clans and families, symbolising loyalty, bravery, and protection.

The Culture Trip website notes :Though its purple variant is more commonly known, white heather is considered a lucky talisman and is usually worn by a groom as a boutonniere on his wedding day. Its reputation stems from the folk tale of Malvina, whose lover, Oscar, dies in battle and has his messenger deliver to Malvina a sprig of purple heather as a symbol of his love. As she weeps over this tragic news, her tears fall upon the heather and turned its blossoms white. Malvina then pronounced: ‘May the White Heather, symbol of my sorrow, bring good fortune to all who find it.’

Heather on Carman Muir.

A purple heather bush.

A large white heather bush established in a Renton garden decades ago.

BELL HEATHER : Erica cinerea

Our muirs may be almost covered in pinks and some mauve / purple heathers, but in amongst them we sometimes notice bolder larger flowers. These are most likely bell heather.

Bell heather is very distinctive: its dark purple-pink, bell-shaped flowers form clusters up the stem, and its short, dark green, needle-like leaves sit in whorls of three.

Note the difference in size an hue. Bell heather in the foreground. Common heather in the background. All of our heathers reach their most dramatic in August.

CULTURE TRIP : https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/scotland/articles/10-unique-superstitions-the-scottish-still-believe/

LIVE BREATHE SCOTLAND website : https://www.livebreathescotland.com/scottish-heather/

SCOTLAND-AT-HEART : https://www.scottish-at-heart.com/scottish-heather.html

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calluna

WILDLIFE TRUSTS : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/heather

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