Culluna vulgaris, better known as a common heather, is a perennial shrub. The heather flower blooms some time in late summer, ranges in color from white, pink, purple and red, and can survive in some very harsh territory. This plant can survive acidic, sandy and generally poor soil conditions, and can even withstand the grazing of animals. This fact is largely to do with both its general hardiness, and the prolific nature which causes it to produce up to 30 seeds per flower.
Heather flowers make for a beautiful plant both indoors and out; however, they are not merely a showpiece blossom. The heather flower has long been used as a food source for a variety of wildlife. It has also been used to cultivate an uniquely flavored honey which is greatly prized in the heathland and moorland regions. The use of heather is thought to have a curative effect on nerves, mental strain, digestive and respiratory functions. This is done by using the flowers themselves to mash into balms, or infusing them with water to make a warm, tea-like infusion. The heather flower was also used in place of hops in ales and beer in the Middle Ages. This is still true today, and you may even find a few recipes to create your own. However, commercially released ales made with the heather flower are few and are strictly regulated to insure safety.
Although most flowers can be used in a variety ways when they are given as a gift, few can match the versatility of the heather flower. The branches of the shrub can be woven and turned into baskets or decorative wall hangings – the flowers themselves can be dried and attached to these pieces. Heather is considered by some to be an emblem of good luck and protection, so talismans may be made from fresh or dried flowers. The flowers can also be pressed behind small glass trinkets and placed on a chain for a more modern take on the talisman theme. But, of course, nothing beats a fresh flower. Heathers can be given either clipped or potted, and each color can represent something different. For instance, you might give the traditional purple heather to express admiration for the recipient; pink to wish them luck, or a simple white heather to protect them from harm.