Erica leucotrachela H.A.Baker
Common names: white-tip heath
Erica leucotrachela is one of many Erica species that grow high up on the mountain peaks of the Kogelberg Mountains.
This very attractive plant forms a strongly branched bush, growing to a height of about 1.5 m. The two-toned tubular flowers are borne on short lateral branches. The base of the corolla is crimson and the tip a pure, velvety white. The tip widens towards the mouth, but is constricted around the anthers. The corolla is 15-20 mm long and the anthers are muticous (anthers without appendages), or have very small awns. It flowers during winter, from May to October.
The conservation status of Erica leucotrachela subsp. leucotrachela is Least Concern (LC), its wild population is stable and is not threatened. The subspecies monicae, which is confined to the upper reaches of the Paardeberg mountains northeast of Kleinmond is assessed as Critically Rare but is not threatened.
Distribution and habitat
This cloud-loving species is found in the Western Cape on the major peaks between Rooi-Els and the Palmiet River. It grows above the mist belt, that is, higher than 600 m above sea level. It is endemic to the Kogelberg Mountains.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus name Erica comes from the Greek word ereike meaning to break, in the belief that an infusion of certain heath plants helped break up kidney stones. The species name is split in two, leuco meaning white and trachelos meaning throat or neck.
The shape of the anthers and colour of the corolla suggest that it is pollinated by birds.
Growing Erica leucotrachela
This erica grows best in moist, cool conditions. Plant amongst Restio dispar, Osmitopsis asteriscoides and other moisture-loving plants. It will also grow well in a pot for display purposes; just ensure that the soil medium is acidic and can hold some moisture.
It grows well from seed. For optimum germination results, treat seed with smoke treatment before sowing. Water lightly. Once germinated, seedlings can be fed with an organic seaweed-based fertilizer, which will strengthen the root system.
- Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005. Erica leucotrachela H.A.Baker subsp. leucotrachela. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/07/13
- Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000. Cape Plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria & Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri.
- Manyama, P.A. 2007. Erica leucotrachela H.A.Baker subsp. monicae E.G.H.Oliv. & I.M.Oliv. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/07/13
- Schumann, D., Kirsten, G. & Oliver, E.G.H. 1992. Ericas of South Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg.
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden
Conservation status updated July 2016
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Winter
Flower colour: Red, White
Aspect: Morning Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Average