Erica cruenta or blood heath is a branched, erect shrub growing to 1 m in height. The leaves are small, narrow and straight, between 5 mm and 8 mm in length. They ascend and overlap.
The shiny, dark to purplish red flowers are born in clusters near stem tips, each at the tip of a tiny side branch. Cruenta means bloody in Latin. The flower has a long, slightly curved tube, up to 2,5 cm in length. The tube bulges slightly just before the mouth when it has opened. The obtusely pointed corolla lobes flare slightly, displaying dark anthers inside the flower mouth, the style being slightly exserted. The flowering season is long, from end summer to the following spring.
This species grows on lower clayey slopes from the Cape Peninsula eastwards, well established in the Kogelberg and as far as Riversdale. The species resprouts after fire.
While agriculture has diminished its habitat, the plant is not considered threatened early in the twenty first century (Burman and Bean, 1985; iSpot; www.redlist.sanbi.org).