Eurasia and North Africa

General description

Heather is here defined as all Calluna vulgaris cultivars, except those that are double-flowered.

Bushy evergreen perennial shrub < 50 cm tall. Stems are woody and pliable. Leaves are small, stalkless and arranged in four vertical rows. Flowers are small, purple/pink, bell-shaped and produced in spring.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell heather. As heather is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant heather within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any heather on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Grassland, tussock, shrublands.

Seeds dispersed by wind and animals. Vegetative spread from layering. Human-mediated dispersal through contamination of footwear and machinery.

Forms dense thickets and outcompetes native vegetation. Alters resource availability and habitat structure, reducing native invertebrate diversity. Reduces cover of preferred food plants and lowers pasture productivity.

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical


Check for presence of agents:
Heather beetle (Lochmaea suturalis)

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications
Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel

Basic Growsafe certified
Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user
Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

Spanish heath
Erica lusitanica

Spanish heath is a larger plant with white flowers (can be pink in bud). Its leaf margins are rolled often covering the whole of underside of the leaf.

Search tags

RPMP status

National Pest Plant Accord Species
Whole region (Sustained Control)
Heather - Main species image