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Useful Temperate Plants

Myrica gale

L.

Myricaceae


The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Bog Myrtle

No Image.

General Information

Myrica gale is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 2.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.

Known Hazards

This plant is an abortifacient and so should not be eaten by pregnant women[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
].

Botanical References

11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
,
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Western Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia to Portugal, east to N.W. Russia. N. America.

Habitat

Bogs, marshes, fens and wet heathland in acid soils but plants are occasionally found in calcareous fens[
5
Title
Food for Free.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1974
ISBN
0-00-219060-5
Description
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
,
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitDeciduous Shrub
Height2.00 m
PollinatorsWind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

There is some difference of opinion about the needs of this plant. Most reports say that it prefers a moist soil and that it grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade. Most reports also say that it prefers or even requires a lime-free loamy or peaty soil[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
] but another report says that it succeeds in any ordinary garden soil[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. In the wild it is usually found in soils with a pH between 3.5 and 6, but it is also sometimes found in fens with a pH as high as 7.5[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].
A suckering shrub, when well sited it can form thickets[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].This habit also allows the plant to succeed in water-logged soils[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required. This plant is occasionally monoecious and also can change sex from year to year[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
]. Flowers are produced mainly on one-year old wood[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
All parts of the plant are pleasantly aromatic[
186
Title
Planting Native Trees and Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Beckett. G. and K.
Publisher
Jarrold
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent guide to native British trees and shrubs with lots of details about the plants.
].
A good food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies[
30
Title
Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe.
Publication
 
Author
Carter D.
Publisher
Pan
Year
1982
ISBN
0-330-26642-x
Description
An excellent book on Lepidoptera, it also lists their favourite food plants.
].
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

The aromatic fruits and leaves are used either fresh or dried to flavour soups, stews etc[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
62
Title
A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T. and Dykeman. P.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold
Year
1982
ISBN
0442222009
Description
Very readable.
,
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. They are sometimes put in beer and ale to improve the flavour and increase foaming[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The fruit is about 3mm in diameter with a single large seed[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The dried leaves make a delicate and palatable tea[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
62
Title
A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T. and Dykeman. P.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold
Year
1982
ISBN
0442222009
Description
Very readable.
,
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are abortifacient, aromatic, astringent, emmenagogue and stomachic[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
,
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The leaves are normally used as a tea, but they do contain a poisonous aromatic oil, so some caution is advised in their use[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
Since the dark ages the plant has been used to treat depression because of its ability to induce a good mood and calm stress[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
].
Bog myrtle has also been used in poultices to heal wounds, suggesting that it may contain strong anti-bacterial agents that could perhaps be developed into new antibiotics.

Other Uses

A wax covering on the fruit and leaves is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
6
Title
Plants with a Purpose.
Publication
 
Author
Mabey. R.
Publisher
Fontana
Year
1979
ISBN
0-00-635555-2
Description
Details on some of the useful wild plants of Britain. Poor on pictures but otherwise very good.
,
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
]. These candles diffuse a delightful odour when burnt[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
]. Unfortunately this species does not produce enough wax to make it commercially viable[
115
Title
The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Publication
 
Author
Johnson. C. P.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
].
A yellow dye is obtained from the stem tips[
66
Title
From Agar to Zenery.
Publication
 
Author
Freethy. R.
Publisher
The Crowood Press
Year
1985
ISBN
0-946284-51-2
Description
Very readable, giving details on plant uses based on the authors own experiences.
,
115
Title
The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Publication
 
Author
Johnson. C. P.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
,
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
]. Brown according to another report[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
A yellow dye is obtained from the seeds[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
The bark contains tannin and can be gathered in the autumn and used as a yellow dye[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The plant repels moths and insects in general[
66
Title
From Agar to Zenery.
Publication
 
Author
Freethy. R.
Publisher
The Crowood Press
Year
1985
ISBN
0-946284-51-2
Description
Very readable, giving details on plant uses based on the authors own experiences.
,
106
Title
The Dictionary of Useful Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Coon. N.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-87857-090-x
Description
Interesting reading but short on detail.
,
115
Title
The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Publication
 
Author
Johnson. C. P.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
]. The fragrant leaves are used[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
]. In 1995 a commercial midge-repellent based on bog-myrtle appeared on the market under the name ‘Myrica’. It was produced from wild myrtle growing on the Isle of Skye, which had been steam distilled to produce a volatile essential oil[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]. In initial trials, eight volunteers each had one arm covered in a gel made from the essential oil. Untreated arms recorded 155 bites while the treated arms received just 13 (over a 10 minute period)[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]. A strong decoction of the leaves can be used as a parasiticide to kill external body parasites[
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
].
A fragrant essential oil is obtained from the fruits[
115
Title
The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Publication
 
Author
Johnson. C. P.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame. Barely cover the seed and keep it moist. Stored seed germinates more freely if given a 3 month cold stratification and then sown in a cold frame. Germination is usually good[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in the cold frame for the first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame. Pot up and overwinter in a cold frame. Fair to good percentage[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
].
Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame.
Layering in spring[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Division of suckers in the dormant season. Plant them out direct into their permanent positions.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2022-10-07. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Myrica+gale>

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