Spanish Heath

What is Spanish heath?

(Erica lusitanica)
Spanish heath flowering plant, photo: Tim RudmanPrint PDF image
  • Spanish heath is an environmental and pasture weed.
  • Spanish heath is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Spanish heath are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify Spanish heath

  • Spanish heath is a woody evergreen perennial (long-lived) shrub growing to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres and occasionally reaching 3.5 metres.
  • Spanish heath stems are woody and brittle, and the leaves are tiny (3 to 7 mm long), pointed, and clustered densely on the stem. The leaves have a longitudinal groove on the lower surface.
  • Spanish heath flowers appear from late autumn to early spring. The white or pinkish flowers are 4 to 5 mm long and occur in loose groups towards the end of the stems. Each flower can produce hundreds of tiny, dust-like seeds which are released when flowering finishes and the flowers have browned off.
  • The roots are fibrous, and the plant readily breaks off near the base, often regrowing quickly from the broken stump.
Spanish heathSpanish heathSpanish heath - close up of flowers, photo: Sandy LeightonSpanish heath - infestation in bushland, photo: Sandy Leighton
Image top: Spanish heath flowering plant, photo: Tim Rudman.
Images above, left to right: Spanish heath - flowering; Spanish heath; Close up of flower, photo: Sandy Leighton; Spanish heath infestation in bushland, photo: Sandy Leighton.

Spanish heath in Tasmania

  • Spanish heath occurs in many areas of Tasmania, with significant infestations in the north (Tamar and Meander Valleys), north-west (from Devonport to Smithton), south (Collinsvale, the Channel area and the Huon Valley), and on the east coast (St Helens, Bicheno, and St Marys) (see map).
  • Spanish heath occurs on degraded pastures, neglected areas and roadsides. Spanish heath also invades native vegetation types including wet forest, dry forest, grassland and riparian (stream-side) areas, generally (but not always) where there has been some soil disturbance.
  • Infestations of Spanish heath in pastures can reduce productivity. In native bushland communities, dense infestations of Spanish heath can replace native species. Spanish heath also increases the fire hazard as it is extremely combustible.

What is the legal status of Spanish heath in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for Spanish heath can be found in the Spanish Heath Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Spanish Heath Control. For further information see Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Spanish Heath Control Guide
Herbicides for Spanish Heath Control
Statutory Management Plan for Spanish Heath
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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