Information on Bog-myrtle

Common Name: Bog-myrtle
Scientific Name: Myrica Gale
Irish Name: Roideóg
Family Group: Myricaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Bog-myrtle is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

A real West-of-Ireland shrub, Bog-myrtle loves acid soil, lake shores and bogland.  In impenetrable little thickets, it grows to about 1 metre tall, having red-brown, twiggy stems.  From April to May, little catkins grow – orange and red, on different plants; the male (orange) are each 15mm long with 4 stamens, the female (red) only 6mm long.  The oval to lanceolate leaves are downy below, almost hairless, and a distinctive fragrance of resin emanates from them and from small yellow dots which grow on the branches.  This is a native plant and it belongs to the Myricaceae family.   

I first identified this plant growing near Derrynane, Co Kerry in 1977 and I photographed it in Corr na Móna, Lough Corrib, Co Galway in 2009 when Sorcha Pierce of  *Grasshopper Cottage generously shared her knowledge of the flora of that area with me. * 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Also known as Sweet Gale, Bog-myrtle was used as a flavouring for some continental beers before the widespread availability of hops.  Red Biddy is one example of an Irish-brewed ale available from The Biddy Early Brewery* in Ennis Co Clare which uses this plant to enhance their product.  The fragrance which is added to their beer comes from plants which grow on nearby Mount Callan. *