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).