Sweetgale (Myrica gale)

Sweetgale (Myrica gale)
Also known as: bayberry, english bog myrtle


Bloom time: April – May

Additional photos:

General: Sweetgale is a deciduous shrub (1-1.5 m high) with noticeable brown twigs branching in an alternating pattern.

Leaves & Twigs: The spatula-shaped, hairy leaves are usually rounded at the tip and narrow at the base. They appear after the flowers on this plant.

Flowers & Fruits

  • Sweetgale produces non-drooping catkins as a flowering structure, with male and female catkins usually on separate plants.
  • Male flowers: 1-2 cm long, yellow with reddish scales, crowded at the end of each twig.
  • Female flowers: similar in appearance to male flowers, but are ruby red.

Habitat: Sweetgale grows in wet habitats around ponds, rivers and bogs.

PlantWatch Pointers: Tag a male shrub to observe.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the catkins on the male shrub first start shedding pollen (3 places).
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the male catkins have lengthened and shed pollen.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

The oil of the sweetgale plant was once thought to strengthen hair and make it grow.