Erica lusitanica

Spanish heath

Family: Ericaceae

Origin: Europe

Clusters of white Spanish heath flowers.
A common shrub in Europe that can grow up to 2m tall. Produces copious amounts of white flowers from autumn to summer.
Photo credit: Weedbusters

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Perennial shrub < 2 m tall. Leaves are < 7 mm long and in whorls of 3-4. Flowers are small, red/pink/white and borne in racemes in March – December. Seed capsules ripen in spring.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Spanish heath within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant Spanish heath within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Spanish heath on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Bare ground, scrubland, roadsides, track margins, wasteland, slips, tussock, herbfields, fernland, dune slacks, pasture.


Seeds dispersed by wind, water and gravity. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Displaces native vegetation, especially in short stature plant communities. Unpalatable to stock.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A tall Spanish heath shrub.
A very hardy plant that can grow in most conditions but loves full sun. Commonly found in roadsides and wastelands.
Photo credit: Weedbusters
A large Spanish heath shrub.
An evergreen shrub that holds its leaves across the winter and is not affected by frost. Very woody stems are hard to pull out once mature but easy when seedlings.
Photo credit: Weedbusters
Close up of Spanish heath flowers.
Seeds are dispersed by wind and gravity allowing the plants to form dense clusters. Can outcompete other native plants that establish in disturbed areas.
Photo credit: Weedbusters