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Bog myrtle

A woody shrub, which in Scotland rarely grows over a metre high, because of browsing by animals such as deer. The narrow oval leaves with downy underneath together with the twigs have a sweet oily smell which is very strong when you rub them in your hand. The other name for this plant is sweet gale.

In spring, both male and female plants produce small flowers, larger red cones (male) and smaller golden catkins (female). These flowers are wind pollinated. The shrub losses its leaves in the winter which makes it difficult to see at a distance.
Found only in wet ground it can be seen on wet heath areas and in bogs. It often stands out as it is taller than many rank grasses or heather.
It has recently been found that the oily smell has natural insect repellent properties and it is being developed specifically as a midge repellent. There is a company in Ross-shire that is distilling the oils after processing the leaves and twigs, which are clipped from the growing shrub and a number of estates are now letting out what was once considered unproductive land for its production.