Heath, the name of a large group of evergreen shrubs or small trees. There are more than 500 species, chiefly in southern Africa and the Mediterranean region. Heath thrives on sterile, damp wastelands, which are often called heaths, or moors.

The best-known species of heath is the heather, or ling, common on the moors of Great Britain. The plant also grows in western Europe and to some extent in eastern North America. Heather grows in dense masses, varying from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) in height. The leaves are overlapping and somewhat needlelike. Heather blooms in late summer, turning a moor into a rosy mass of color.

Other British heaths include the twisted, Scotch, or bell, heath and the cross-leaved, or bog, heath. The twisted heath has purplish-blue flowers; the cross-leaved has rose-colored flowers. Many of the less hardy species of heath are grown in greenhouses.

Heath has many uses. Cattle feed on its young shoots, birds on its seeds. Brushes and brooms are made from the stems of the plant. The root of one species—the brier—is used to make tobacco pipes. Even decayed heath is useful, for it forms a large part of the northern European peat bogs, an important source of fuel.

The common heath is Calluna vulgaris; twisted. Erica cinerea; cross-leaved, E. tetralix. Heath belongs to the heath family, Ericaceae.