Ireland’s Lusitanian heathers – an Erica mackayana perspective

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington



Erica mackayana occurs only in western Ireland and N Spain. In Ireland, where it spreads only by cuttings, it has a very disjunct and localised distribution. Erica tetralix, however, is very common and where Erica mackayana occurs, the hybrid E. x stuartii, is frequent, though never more than 1–2 km from Erica mackayana. The restricted distribution in Ireland of parent and hybrid raises questions as to their origin. Like Erica erigena, Erica mackayana may have been introduced from Spain by traders as packing for goods; the remote location of the sites suggests it may even have arrived with smugglers.


Atlantic fringe; localised distribution; NW Spain; smuggling; trade

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