Ling heather : Calluna Vulgaris
Plant : Ling heather produces blankets of purple moorland across large areas of rural Northumberland, in early autumn, particularly in the cheviot hills. It is an evergreen, low lying shrub, growing up to 50 cm high. The stems are branched and have small leaves, which branch in pairs on either side of the stem. Its habitat is mainly in acidic soils and peat, particularly on moorland, bogs and woodland.
Flower : The flowers are very small. Each flower is only 3 to 10 mm long, has 4 petals and eight stamens.
Pollen : The pollen load of ling heather is brown. The grain is a very distinctive tetrad shape, made up of four interlocking grains. It is 48 um long. There are three furrow and pore type apertures. The surface is slightly pitted and the exine is thin.
Rex Sawyer’s book, Pollen Identification for beekeepers is really helpful for understanding the features of pollen. In Bob Maurer’s book, Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers, he shows some simple techniques for making up pollen slides. Click here to return to plants for bees index.