Bog myrtle is very scarce in England, growing only in the New Forest and Dorset heaths, parts of the south- west and a few scattered locations in East Anglia and further north. It is uncommon in Wales, but more widespread throughout Scotland. In the New Forest it is very common and forms large stands in the wettest parts of bogs.
Bog myrtle leaves have a resinous, balsamic fragrance and the plant has had many uses. For example, it was used to flavour beer and to add scent to candles, and it is a very effective traditional insect repellent.
One old name for bog myrtle is ‘sweet gale’ and there are a few places in England named after it, for example Galsworthy in Devon.
The small bushes of bog myrtle are a characteristic feature of the wetter parts of the New Forest and can easily be seen. It produces small, orange-coloured catkins in the spring.