Examples of the "heath" family of plants: hillside blueberry (upper left), pink azalea (upper right), black huckleberry (lower right), and mountain laurel (lower left).
Photographer: Gary Fleming
Sometimes whole families of plants (related species) share certain characteristics. This is true of the heath family, most members of which require acidic soil. Heath is an old English term meaning uncultivated land dominated by heather, but it has come to be used to indicate any of the acid-loving shrubs in the same plant family as heather. Heath-family shrubs ("heaths") include hillside blueberry, black huckleberry, mountain laurel, and pink azalea. Where not overbrowsed by deer, these can grow densely! One reason is that they are clonal, meaning many stems form from the same individual plant’s extensive root system.