Tejo canario, flejo (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? In the past, the wood of this heather was highly sought after for carving spoons, knife handles and other wooden utensils.
This Canarian heather is generally a tall and very branching shrub, but in protected areas it can be more than 10 m in height. The young twigs are reddish and smooth. Its bark is brown and fibrous, and when mature it detaches in long thin strips. The leaves are persistent, simple, fine and very narrow (linear), in the form of short needles. Their margins turn down slightly towards the underside, and they are arranged on the twigs in groups of 3 or 4, like the blades of a fan. This heather may be confused with the tree heath (Erica arborea), although close observation reveals that the leaves of this species are harder, a little larger (1.5-2 cm long and 2-2.5 mm wide), drop less, are not so rolled, are more separated from each other and arranged more horizontally. These characteristics give the branches a sturdier look. At the end of the winter, this heather fills with tiny, deep reddish-pink, funnel-shaped flowers (whereas the blossom of the tree heath is white) that are grouped into narrow clusters. The fruits are ovoid capsules up to 5 mm long. They generally open during the dry days of summer. Inside they contain a large number of tiny seeds (0.4-0.6 mm) that are dispersed by the wind.
Together with the tree heath (Erica arborea) this heather forms a unique community known as the Morella-Erica heath. It is frequent in the steepest zones, exposed to humid winds, prefers acidic soils, and lives between altitudes of 800 and 1100 m.
Erica platycodon is a Macaronesian species. The subspecies platycodon is considered to be endemic to the Canaries and is present on El Hierro, La Gomera and Tenerife, where it sometimes coexists with its relative, the tree heath (Erica arborea).