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Sweet Gale/Bog Myrtle

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  • Sweet Gale/Bog Myrtle

    I just started all-grain home brewing and found some interesting old world recipes involving a couple of plants we have up here.

    Specifically, I found a Scottish ale recipe that requires yarrow, Labrador tea, and sweet gale, in place of hops.

    I've been picking yarrow for quite some time and can readily identify Labrador tea, but don't recognize Sweet Gale (aka bog myrtle, wild gale, Myrica Gale). Does anyone on the forum here recognize this name, or have they picked it before? Circle Distric Historical Society has a small page with some information, but I'm in the Anchorage area. Wondering if anyone would know of a good place in south central to find this little plant?

  • #2 Seems like I've seen this plant pretty frequently when picking blueberries in the Willow area. Can't recall a specific spot, but I'll be on the lookout now. I'd check swamps along Willow Parkway and also the railroad tracks in the Houston area.


    • #3
      Thanks for the suggestion! I've been finding all sorts of European sources with information on this plant, as well as a guy down in Quebec who picks it for brewing in beer ( Haven't found much about it in the Alaskan context apart from a book about edible plants of Kodiak (

      I'll take some pictures/post more when I find it.


      • #4

        Any plant that repels biting insects is very useful IMO. Here a few more links for the Bog Myrtle. Says it should not be consumed by women who are, or may become pregnant.


        • #5
          These plants are very common here in Southeast AK.


          • #6
            I've seen sweet gale growing in a lake up by Skwenta and in a bog in south Anchorage. See Janice Schofield's "Discovering Wild Plants" book for detailed info. I've picked and dried the leaves and used them like bay leaves in recipes. Have also crushed the fresh leaves and used them as bug repellent (rubbed them on arms), but the effect only lasts about 15 minutes. I'll take a picture of my dried leaves and post on here so you can see what they look like. Notice the tops of the leaves are serrated. Click image for larger version

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            • #7
              brdhrdr - Thanks for the info and the pictures! My apologies for not checking back sooner, I spent some time rambling about looking for sweet gale this past summer, but forgot about my questions to this site.

              Indeed, I ended up finding quite a bit of it on a lake off the George Parks highway. Since then, I'd started noticing it all over the place. Odd how something can elude you then all of a sudden it seems to turn up everywhere you look!

              Dried some of the leaves using my food dehydrator, still looking forward to brewing with them, will have to try using them as a bay leaf substitute, as you suggested!



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