Ericaceae : Heath Family


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae

Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Ericaceae (Gk. ereiko = to break; referring to the brittle wood)

Genera: 11

Species: 15

Andomeda polifolia(Bog Rosemary)

Arctostaphylos alpina(Black Bearberry)

Arctostaphylos rubra(Red Bearberry)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi(Kinnikinick)

Cassiope tetragona(Arctic White Heather)

Chamaedaphne calyculate(Leatherleaf Cassandra)

Kalmia polifolia(Bog-laurel)

Ledum decumberns(Dwarf Labrador-tea)

Ledum groenlandicum(Labrador-tea)

Loiseleuria procumbens(Alpine Azalea)

Oxycoccus microcarpus(Bog Cranberry)

Phyllodoce empetriformis(Pink Mountain Heather)

Rhododendron lapponicum(Lapland Rose-bay)

Vaccinium uliginosum(Bog Blueberry)

Vaccinum vitis-idaea(Lingonberry)

English Name(s):

Heath Family

Family Traits


  • Shrubs dwarf prostrate to medium sized erect.
  • Flowers perfect (bisexual) and regular (symetrical).
  • Sepals 4-5; Corolla (petals) 4-5 lobed
  • Petals 4-5 usually united and bell shaped. Only Ledum (Labrador-tea) petals are not united.
  • Stamens (male parts) ussually twice as many as corolla lobes
  • Leaves simple (one unlobed blade)
  • Pistils (female parts) with a syncarpous (united carpels) ovary with one style (pollen reciever).

Natural History:

  • Most species inhabit acidic soils or bogs.

Family Size:


Genera: 50+

Species: 1350+

North America:

Genera: 25+



Genera: 13

Species: 20


Andromeda (Rosemary)

World= ?

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Arctostaphylos (Bearberry)

  • Prostrate or trailing shrubs.
  • Flowers bell-shaped, in terminal racemes or clusters.
  • Fruit a berry like drupe.
  • Calyx (sepals) 5 parted.
  • Stamens (male parts) 10.

World= 70

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 3

Central Yukon= 3

Cassiope (Heather)

  • Drawf matted shrubs.
  • Leaves evergreen, opposite, 4-ranked (come in 4s), imbricated (overlaping).
  • Flowers white, nodding, solitary from leaf axils.
  • Sepals 5 nearly distinct; corolla (petals) united, bell-shaped, 5-lobed.
  • Stamens (male parts) 10.
  • Fruit a dry capsule with 5-locules (chambers.

World= 12

N.A.= 5

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Chamaedaphne (Cassandra)

World= ?

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Kalmia (Swamp Laurel)

World= ?

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Ledum (Labrador-tea)

  • Low much branched strongly aromatic shrubs.
  • Leaves evergreen, alternate, glabrous (not hairy) above, densely rusty tomentose (hairy) below, margins inrolled.
  • Flowers in terminal umbel-like clusters; pedicels (stalks) rusty-pubescent (hairy).
  • Sepals small, 5-toothed; petals white, 5, distinct (not untited).
  • Fruit a dry capsule with 5 locules (chambers).

World= 5

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 2

Central Yukon= 2

Loiseleuria (Azalea)

World= ?

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Oxycoccus (Cranberry)

  • The "true" Cranberry genus.

World= ?

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Phyllodoce (Mountain Heather)

  • Low Dwarf shrubs; stems erect.
  • Leaves evergreen, alternate, densely crowded, linear.
  • Flowers born singly from upper leaf axils. Usually a few to many.
  • Sepals 5, distinct or nearly so; Corolla (petals) united, bell-shaped, 5-lobed.
  • Stamens (male parts) 10.
  • Fruit a dry capsule with 5 locules (chambers).

World= 10

N.A.= 4

Yukon= 2

Central Yukon= 1

Rhododendron (Rhododendron)

  • Usually med to large shrubs.

World= 130

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 1

Central Yukon= 1

Vaccinium (Blueberry)

  • Depressed, creeping or upright, dwarf shrubs.
  • Flowers from leaf axils or in terminal racemes (clusters).
  • Corolla (petyals united and bell-shaped.
  • Fruit a many seeded berry.

World= 200

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 4

Central Yukon= 2

Illustrated Key To Ericaceae Species

Note: Move cursor over image for note on what to look for. Click on image to enlarge.

Andromeda polifolia (Bog Rosemary)

Arctostaphylos alpina (Black Bearberry)

Arctostaphylos rubra (Red Bearberry)

Arctostaphylos uva.ursi (Kinnikinick)

Cassiope tetragona (Arctic White Heather)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf Cassandra)

Kalmia polifolia (Bog-laurel)

Ledum decumbens (Dwarf Labrador-tea)

Ledum groenlandicum (Labrador-tea)

Loiseleuria procumbens (Alpine Azalea)

Oxycoccus microcarpus (Bog Cranberry)

Phyllodoce empetriformis (Pink Mountain Heather)

Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland Rose-bay)

Vaccinium uliginosum (Bog Blueberry)

Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Lingonberry)

Dicotomous Key To Ercicaceae Species

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