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On Ericas

Erica vallis-aranearum

Erica vallis-aranearum

One of the dominant genera of the unique South African fynbos vegetation is Erica, with some 635 species endemic to the Southwest Cape (of a total of about 860 spp including 16 spp in Europe, and 1 sp in Sweden). Many of the fynbos spp have seeds with germination enhanced by smoke, an adaptation to frequent bush fires. A few species are lime-tolerant, the majority being calcifugous (i.e., not tolerant to alkaline, basic, soli; calcifugous is sometimes called ericaceous; think of the acidic heaths dominated by Erica and other Ericaceae). The name Erica is supposed to be derived from vereika, an old indoeuropean word for heath. This specimen is collected by E.G.H. Oliver (1938-), who has named and described almost 300 Ericas.

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