Photo: Phyllodoce caerulea

Phyllodoce caerulea (L.) Bab.

Mountain Heath

Habitat: Arctic regions, alpine rocks and peat. [Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Circumboreal, south to alpine summits of Maine and New Hampshire.

Aids to Identification: Mountain heath is a low growing shrub, only 5-15 cm in height. Its narrow evergreen leaves resemble those of the yew. They are alternate and crowded on the stem on short (1 mm) leaf stalks. The urn-shaped flowers are about 1 cm long on 1-2 cm long stalks. Vegetatively, it resembles Empetrum, the crowberries. However, Phyllodoce has leaves which are minutely serrate on the margins, while those of Empetrum are entire.

Photo: Phyllodoce caerulea

Ecological characteristics: In Maine, this species is known to occur only above treeline on Mount Katahdin.

Phenology: Flowers July - August.

Family: Ericaceae

Synonyms: Andromeda caerulea L.; Bryanthus taxifolius Gray.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 1 town(s) in the following county(ies): Piscataquis.

Reason(s) for rarity: Disjunct from principal range.

Conservation considerations: Populations could be threatened by heavy recreational (hiking) use.