Family: Ericaceae
Common name: heath family [Zomlefer, pp. 77-81]
Diversity: Worldwide: 100 genera; ~3,000 species
U.S.: 25 genera
PNW (Hitchcock & Cronquist): 22 genera
Some also include the Pyrolaceae (shinleafs/pyrolas) &
Monotropaceae (Indian pipe;saprophytes) within the Ericaceae.
Flower -- Vegetative Features -- Economic Importance -- Flower Images-- Web Sites

K Co(4-5) S8-10 P
Sexuality: bisexual
Symmetry: actinomorphic
Inflorescence: solitary , raceme, panicle, or corymb
Calyx (sepals): 4 to 5 more/less connate at base
Corolla (petals): 4 to 5 fused at base, often bell-shaped (=campanulate) or urn shaped (=urceolate), white or brightly colored
Androecium: twice the petal number, two series; filaments often flattended, sometimes S-shaped; anthers often open with terminal pore, pollen dispersed as tetrads, usually held together by viscin threads.
Gynoecium: 4 to 5 united carpels, superior ovary (=hypogynous) or inferior ovary (=epigynous), single style, axile placentation
Fruit: capsule, drupe, or berry
Other features: Petals and stamens usually inserted on a floral disc that produces nectar.

Vegetative Features
Leaves: usu. alternate, simple, often leathery and evergreen, sometimes needle-like, exstipulate,
Life-history: perennial
Habit: woody shrubs, rarely trees or herbs
Distribution & Ecology: temperate regions of both hemispheres
diversity centers in w. China and s. Africa
primarily on acidic soils, all appear to be obligately mycorrhizal
Some Northwest Genera: Rhododendron, rhododendron, azalea
Kalmia, mountain laurel
Vaccinium, blueberry, huckleberry, cranberry
Chimaphila, pipsissewa
Gaultheria, salal
Arbutus, madrone
Arctostaphylos, manzanita, kinnikinnik
Phyllodoce, mountain heather

Economic Importance
Crops: Gaultheria, wintergreen (oil)
Vaccinium, blueberry, huckleberry, cranberry
Ornamentals: Erica, heath
Rhododendron, rhododendron, azaleas (>700 spp. cultivated)
Weedy and pest species: Kalmia, poisonous to sheep ("lambkill")

Examples Ericaceae Arbutus
Ericaceae Arctostaphylous
Ericaceae Gaultheria
Ericaceae Phyllodoce
Ericaceae Rhododendron
click on the genus name for a flower image

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