Bog-myrtle, Studland, Dorset
Close-up of male flowers - bracts and stamens
Fruits - nuts
Older, greyer leaves
Next year's scaled buds (taken in September)
Extensive stand of Bog-myrtle
Sweet Gale, Gold Withy
April to May
It is found in parts of the Northwest, Northeast, East Anglia,
South and Southwest and is thinly scattered elsewhere.
The pictures shown here were taken in the nature reserve
at Studland, Dorset,
For a map see the National Biodiversity network Gateway
It grows in acid bogs, moors, wet heaths and at the edge of
wet woods (carr), all of which have moving groundwater.
Bog-myrtle is a native, suckering, patch-forming, aromatic shrub,
growing up to 1.5m.
Male and female flowers are usually on separate plants, but some
plants have both male and female flowers, and some can change
sex from year to year.
On the day I took these pictures in early April, all the plants
had male catkins and I only found one branch, on an otherwise
male plant, which had female flowers. This presumably changes,
because in the autumn there were large numbers of nuts.
Catkins are lateral on last year's shoots and appear before
Male catkins are yellow-orange and up to 3cm long.
Each male flower has a red-brown bract and 4 or more cream
stamens, which darken later.
Female flowers are up to 1cm and are bright red with red bracts and styles.
The nuts are hard, and glandular.
The first leaves are green and become greyer as they age.
They are elongated ovals up to 6cm long.
Twigs are red-brown.
The leaves and stems are covered in glands which give off a
highly aromatic, balsamic-smelling resin.
They contain an essential oil, which has been used as an insect
repellant, a scent in candles and a flavouring herb in brewing
There are at least three places in England named after bog myrtle
or gale: Gailey, Staffordshire, “grove overgrown with bog myrtle”;
Galsworthy, Devon, “bank or slope with bog myrtle”; and Galton,
Dorset, “homestead where bog myrtle grows”. This, and further
information on the use of Bog-myrtle in brewing, can be found
by clicking on the following link - Gale warning / Zythophile
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