Heath

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Heathland at Woodbury Common, Devon (England), featuring purple flowers of Calluna vulgaris and yellow flowers of Ulex gallii
Heath landscape in the Stirling Range, Western Australia, with a dieback-infested valley in the mid ground

A heath or heathland is a shrubland habitat found mainly on low quality, acidic soils. It has open, low growing woody vegetation.

There are some clear differences between heath and moorland. For example moorland has a very peaty topsoil, and it is also free-draining, whereas a heath is not. Moorland is generally related to high-ground heaths[1] with — especially in Great Britain — a cooler and damper climate.

Heathland is common worldwide. They form extensive and diverse communities across Australia in humid and sub-humid areas. Fire regimes with burning maintain the heathlands.[2] Even more diverse though less widespread heath occurs in Southern Africa. Extensive heath communities can also be found in the California chaparral, New Caledonia, central Chile and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to these extensive heath areas, the vegetation type is also found in scattered locations across all continents except Antarctica.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Polunin, Oleg & Walters, Martin 1985. A guide to the vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-19-217713-3.
  2. Spech R.L. 1988. Heathlands. In Australian vegetation R.H. Groves (ed) Cambridge University Press.