Myrica gale

Botanical Name: Myrica gale

Common Name:

Plant Hardiness: Zone 2

Flower: Short yellow-green catkins form on old wood in early summer. Plants are dioecious

Bloom Time: Early to mid-spring

Foliage: The green deciduous leaves sometimes have a bluish hue. The leaves are quite fragrant

Fruit: Small, brown nutlet that forms in the leaf axils

Habit: Well shaped rounded shrub most commonly found on the water’s edge

Size: 2 to 4 feet tall with about the same width

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Native Habitat: Northern climates of the United States and Eurasia

Other Features: The stems are dark red and fragrant when bruised

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Description: For many years I’ve noticed a nicely shaped, rounded shrub growing along the water’s edge on the lake in Maine where I usually fish. I never paid too much attention to it until one year when the fishing was poor and I looked at it more closely and found it to be a form of bayberry. I took a few cuttings, and we have added it to the list of plants we grow. Wyman mentions this plant, ‘not much used as an ornamental shrub’. Indeed I’ve never seen it listed; however, it should have a great deal of value for naturalistic gardens in relatively wet areas. Sweet Gale likes sandy soil, as long as it is on the damp side. It will grow 2 to 4 feet tall and to about the same width. Attractive light green leaves and interesting branch structure with dark red bark which should show up quite well in the winter, its foliage is fragrant like other bayberries This is by far the most attractive plant we grow for wet soil conditions, one that is not well known but hopefully will be used a lot more in the future.