Heather, Flora in Co. Mayo
Ling Heather is a popular evergreen plant in our county and it gives to Mayo’s landscape a particular touch of purple colour when it is in blossom. It flowers between July and September.
It has narrow leaves and a spike of purply-pink flowers, it grows to 20-100 cm tall often near bilberry plants. This plant can be found in heathlands and bogs, but also high up in mountains. It is the favourite food of the red grouse, a very common medium-sized bird in Mayo, which likes best its seeds and flowers.
In the past Ling Heather was used to make brushes and brooms to sweep houses.
Its botanic name is Calluna vulgaris, in Irish it is called Fraoch mor.
In Mayo Bell Heather and Cross Leaved Heather are also commonly found, but also the Irish heath (Erica erigena) called “Mediterranean Heath” can be found in bogs (Bellacragher Bay area). This giant heather was brought in through medieval traffic from Spain.