- 117 genera / 3850 spp., cosmopolitan, but not in deserts and in the tropics usually
- Shrubs and trees, sometimes lianes or subherbs
- Mycorrhizal, and often on acid soils; fungal partners scavenge for Nitrogen and
Under acid conditions, many minerals are hard to pick up
- In North America and Europe Ericaceae are commonly found in bogs such as kettle bogs
and blanket bogs.
- Leaves simple, often evergreen and with adaptations for minimizing water loss (“Ericoid
habit”), usually spirally arranged. Note variety of habitats in which this advantageous.
- Stipules absent
- Viscin threads may hold pollen tetrads together (Rhododendron), increasing efficiency of
individual pollinator visits.
- Fleshy, versus dry-dehiscent fruits; bird versus wind dispersal of seeds.
- Potential impact on seed weight.
- K(5), C5 or C(5)
- A(8-)10, anthers dehiscing by pores or (sometimes) slits, pollen grains in tetrads except
where petals also free.
- G(5), superior to inferior, developing into a berry, capsule (loculicidal or septicidal), or
drupe; seeds often tiny and wind-dispersed.