Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Ericaceae consists of shrubs, tress, and perennial herbs, many of them familar as garden plants: rhododendrons, azaleas, heaths, heathers, and blueberries. The regular flowers usually have a 5-lobed calyx and a corolla of either 5 lobes or 5 separate petals, with 5 or 10 stamens. The fruit is fleshy or dry, and usually partitioned into 5 seed producing divisions.

Probably all members of Ericaceae have fungi associated with their roots, for proper breakdown and intake of nutrients. This makes them excellent places to scout for mushrooms - the delectable Hedge Hog Mushroom is usually found growing under Huckleberry thickets in late Winter and early Spring.

Ericaceae are excellent for native gardens, particularly Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) and Salal (Gaultheria shallon).

Montara Mountain has many native members of this family, including:

Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

Montara Manzanita (Arctostaphylos montaraensis)

Brittle-Leaved Manzanita (Arctostaphylos tomentosa crinita)

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)



Vaccinium ovatum:

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Flowers: Whitish-Pink bells; in hanging clusters.

Blooms: March - May.

Leaves: Dark green with reddish-bronze new growth; leathery, slightly toothed, 1 inch long.

Fruit/Seeds: Dark blue berries with white bloom; in tight clusters. July - September.

Location: Nearly all trails; Hazelnut trail, Montara Mountain trail, San Pedro Mtn Road at higher elevations.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 2 - 6 ft tall; dense shrub. Evergreen.

Vaccinium ovatum
600x450 JPEG - 60K

Note the small clusters of flowers and berries, as well as the red-to-green coloring of the leaves.


CU of image: 600x450 JPEG - 28K


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