When we talk about Heather, we almost always mean two different types of plants: Heather and Heath. Although both are members of the Ericaceae family, they differ botanically and are divided into genus Calluna and genus Erica.
For convenience, however, they are almost identical and share color, shape, and growth habits. All True Heathers are varieties of a single species, Calluna vulgaris (misclassified as Erica vulgaris by some botanists).
There are easily over 500 varieties available. Most blooms in summer and their flower colors range from white to pink to dark purple, and their leaves are green to bright orange. Also, the leaves are scaly and small.
Most of them form low mounds or scattered carpets. Common names are Scottish Heather and Scotch Heather.
As mentioned earlier, aside from the increased susceptibility of Heath to cold, the primary difference between Heather and Heath is that Heath has needle-shaped foliage rather than flat foliage.
The scale-like foliage of the Heather has tiny hairs that give the foliage a grayish tinge. Heather is an evergreen shrub that is native to North America, Siberia, and Western Europe. Still, it is now found all over the world. Heather is a bushy plant that produces many branches.
It can grow to heights of 24 to 39 inches. Heather produces small, usually purple flowers. Red, lavender, pink, and white flowers can also be seen but are rare in nature. Heather blooms from July through November.