Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Coastal BC Plants: Sweet Gale

Sweet Gale

Along the edge the cedar float that provides a transition between my float cabin and shore, Sweet Gale (Myrica gale) clusters in profusion. It’s a common plant seen growing on old logs and booms here on Powell Lake. It can also be found in wetlands at low elevations from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska.

If you pick Sweet Gale, you will find that it has a very pleasant smell. Dried, it would be a nice addition to a potpourri. Sweet Gale is a deciduous perennial shrub that grows to about 1.5 metres in the best of conditions. Mine are about half that size. The leaves are dull green and whitish underneath. The tips tend to be slightly toothed with notches. In contrast to the leaves, the stems are dark red.

Sweet Gale male catkins.

Male and female flowers are found in catkins on separate plants. The male catkins can be distinguished because they are longer than the female ones. Catkins appear in the spring before the leaves emerge. The seeds form into brown cone-like spikes and remain on the plant through the winter.

Sweet Gale female catkins.

Living in a floating lake environment, it’s nice to have natural green plants growing on the brown logs floating around my home. They tend themselves and survive from year to year, providing lots of visual enjoyment.

Do you encourage natural plants in your garden? What are some of your favourites? -- Margy

References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia (online).

10 comments:

  1. I'll have to watch for this plant. I like wild plants - often some that people call weeds. Dandelions are among my favorites - we get our blooms last in our yard because of late winter shade but we always celebrate when they finally appear. They are important to bees - especially in town, where they can be the first "food flowers" for bees, so I hate to see people spray them - for more than one reason. I love ferns too - we have the nicest patch of them on one side of the yard - they grow tall and feathery and come back year after year.

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    1. I like dandelions too. In fact, I love all yellow flowers. My daffodils are starting to bloom already. This sure is an early year. - Margy

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  2. I always let the wild amaranth grow in the garden. It's taller than I am and bugs flock to it first so my vegetables have a fighting chance. Your sweet gale is pretty growing around the decking.

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    1. Isn't amaranth related to quinoa or similar. I tried growing quinoa two years ago. The critters loved the plants so I didn't get many seeds to save. - Margy

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  3. You have such interesting fauna! We're still frozen. (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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    1. My daffodils are already blooming. Even milder than normal here. - Margy

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  4. Interesting one to watch for.

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    1. I'm sure you have it on your side of the strait. Check freshwater marshy areas. - Margy

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  5. Seems like a nice plant .... i had not heard that name before... nice choice for G.

    Have a nice ABC-day / – week
    ♫ M e l d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

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    1. I had to cut a lot of it back at the end of summer. I hope it comes back. - Margy

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