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Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator's Society

Vol. 50

South African Ericas in the Wild: Observations from a British Heather Society Study Tour

Peter Bingham

pp: 186-188


In Autumn 1999 I was invited to join a study tour to the Western Cape Province of South Africa, organised by the British Heather Society. Tour guides were Ted Oliver — the world's leading expert on South African Erica and Inge Oliver who has worked alongside Ted for many years and shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for South African plants in general and ericas in particular. They were joined by local experts at various locations throughout the trip, which included a diverse range of habitats and excellent specimens of many Erica species.

The Cape Province of South Africa is the main centre of diversity for the world's Erica species with more than 625 recorded species (compared with 21 species in the whole of Europe). More are still being discovered as people visit remote locations at different times of year.

I had expected to see expanses of heathers on the scale of the Calluna species in the Scottish highlands, with the hope that forms found at altitude would be hardy and

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