Information on Cross-leaved Heath

Common Name: Cross-leaved Heath
Scientific Name: Erica tetralix
Irish Name: Fraoch naoscaí
Family Group: Ericaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Cross-leaved Heath could sometimes be confused with:

Heather, Bell,

Favouring damp, acid soils, this little evergreen undershrub (to 70cm high) carpets some of our heaths, wet moors, bogs and mountains.  More common on wetter, waterlogged ground than Bell Heather, it bears round, drooping pink to magenta flowers (7-9mm long), bell-shaped but with almost-closed mouths, in terminal one-sided clusters on wiry branches from May to October.  Brown seed-heads follow and remain on the plants into winter.  The leaves are narrow, needle-like,in whorls of 4 along the thin stems.  This is a native plant and it belongs to the family Ericaceae.

My earliest record of this plant is in Glendalough, Co Wicklow in 1976.  I photographed it in Ballycroy National Park, Co Mayo - a great place to visit.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Heath, Cross-leaved
Heath, Cross-leaved

The sweet scent of this plant attracts a variety of insects during the summer.  This plant was once a source of yellow dye in the textile industry.