Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Bog Myrtle

Bog Myrtle

Scientific name: Myrica gale

Bog Myrtle is a deciduous shrub growing to 1 to 2 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 2 to 5 cm long, oblanceolate with a tapered base and broader tip, and a crinkled or finely toothed margin. The flowers are catkins, with male and female catkins on separate plants. The fruit is a small drupe.

It typically grows in acidic peat bogs, and to cope with these difficult nitrogen-poor growing conditions, the roots have nitrogen-fixing actinobacteria which enable the plants to grow.


The foliage has a sweet resinous scent, and is a traditional insect repellent, used by campers to keep biting insects out of tents. In Scotland it has been traditionally used to ward off the dreaded midge. It is also a traditional ingredient of Royal Wedding bouquets, and is used variously in perfumery and as a condiment.


Bog Myrtle is listed as an abortifacient and, therefore, should not be consumed by women who are, or might be, pregnant.

Information and photographs courtesy of