HomeHerb DatabaseBog Myrtle Saturday, May 25, 2024  
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Bog Myrtle

  • Myrica gale
  • Myricaceae
  • Wax-myrtle family

Common Names

herbsSweet gale

Parts Usually Used

Leaves, berries, root bark

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Bog myrtle is an aromatic deciduous shrub 2-6 feet tall; the leaves are dull green, almost gray, and grow somewhat sparsely from a brownish stem. The flowers are in clusters at the ends of previous year's branchlets, catkin-like and pink, blooms April to June. Flowers are followed by bright orange berries.

Where Found

Grows in damp soil, on moors, marshes, swamps, shallow water, and fens. Newfoundland to the mountains of North Carolina; Tennessee to Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Medicinal Properties

Bitter tonic, antidepressant, nervine

Legends, Myths and Stories

Norwegians smoke the leaves of this bush with tobacco, which they believe it greatly improves.

The myrtle is called the Greek Mursine because of a young maiden of Athens names Myrsine, who was so beautiful all the lusty lads or brave young men of Athens tenderly loved her, as well as the goddess Pallas or Minerva, who willed her to be always present at tourney, and the tilts, running, vaulting, and other such activities and exercises. After the games, Myrsine was to be the judge and award the garland or crown of honor to the winner. They were so pleased with her judgment that they killed her. As soon as the goddess Minerva found out about it, she caused the sweet myrtle to spring up, and called it Myrsine to honor and in memory of the sweet maiden.


The leaves, chewed raw or used as a standard infusion, is used as a general tonic and restorative, of special value during bouts of sickness, depression, or strain. It quickly revives the spirit, quickens the mind and strengthens the nerves. Cases of poor memory and mental confusion in old age are successfully treated with Bog myrtle. The branch tea once was used as a diuretic for gonorrhea.


Essential oil reportedly toxic, inhibits growth of various bacteria. Do not use without medical supervision.

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