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Bog Myrtle

Another acid lover you may find accompanying Heath Milkwort is this short shrubby plant, which is a feature of wet heathland throughout the Southwest, Highlands and most islands, but Shetland is too far north for it.  Bog Myrtle is willow-like in appearance with woody branching stems which are elbowed and crooked. As the name suggests it likes to soak its roots in boggy soils. The leaves give off a resinous aroma when crushed effective in repelling the ubiquitous Highland midge. It has even been processed and sold as an oil for this purpose.

The first to appear before the leaves in spring are the male catkins, which are long tight reddish buds at first, opening later to reveal many creamy pollen anthers nestled between its pinecone-like scales.  The female flowers grow on separate plants as a brownish spike, carrying purplish-red stigmas. 

The leaves appear later and are greyish green, oval and narrow with paler yellowish branching veins. Some may be rounded or more pointed at the tips and some may have a few teeth towards the tips. Leaves are covered with a few soft hairs. The aromatic resin is produced from yellow glands dotted on the underside of the leaves.

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