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heath, tract of open land characterized by a few scattered trees, abundant moss cover, and numerous low shrubs, principally of the heath family (see heath, in botany). In high-latitude regions with minimal variation in climate, the undershrub vegetation may persist indefinitely on shallow, peaty soils rather than undergoing succession to the climax vegetation (see ecology), e.g., temperate forests. Alpine azalea, bearberry, dwarf birch, and some insectivorous plants are among the additional flora found on north-temperate heaths.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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