Erica cerinthoides is named after the genus Cerinthe, the honey wort, because of the similarity of the flowers and their arrangement. Francis Masson first introduced Erica cerinthoides into cultivation in England, and it featured in the Botanical Magazine in 1794. It was a favourite species in cultivation at that time, but is seldom seen in cultivation these days.
Erica cerinthoides is the most widely distributed of the heaths in southern Africa. It occurs from the Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape, though the Eastern Cape, Transkei, Natal Drakensberg, into Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Swaziland, and as far north as the Soutpansberg in the Northern Province. It is found in different habitats in the Cape where it grows from the coastal plains to the mountain tops.
The Ericaceae family (also called the heath family or ericaceous plants) are mostly lime-hating plants that thrive in acid soils and so should do well together with the Tea tree (see next post).
Interesting facts: The flowers are sucked for their abundant sweet nectar.The showy red flowers will attract bird pollinators to the garden. Erica cerinthoides is one of a few ericas that resprout from a woody rootstock after fire. The result is the production of clusters of lovely inflated, tubular, red flowers at the ends of short branches, which form neat, colourful shrublets in a bleak burnt landscape. Fire thus keeps this plant in good healthy condition and will stimulate flowering at any time of the year. After a number of years they will grow taller, become straggly and produce fewer flowers. Their ability to survive and respond to fire and to freely produce seed is a major factor in their success as a survivor of adverse growing conditions.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. Habitats: Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade.