Myrica gale L. - syn. Myrica tomentosa (C. DC.) Asch. & Graebn.; Gale palustris (Lamarck) A. Chevalier
Myricaceae - sweet gale, bog myrtle, Gagelstrauch, Gagel
Deciduous shrub, up to 1.50m tall, native to Europe and Northern America; much-branched, branchlets purple-black, with brownish-yellow resin glands; leaves oblanceolate to obovate, up to 6cm long, fragrant, ± leathery, base cuneate, margins usually minutely serrate, abaxially pale green, glabrous to densely pilose, adaxially dark green, glabrous to pilose, both surfaces with glands (bright yellow to orange); flowers staminate (brown and yellow) and pistillate (brownish-white, stigma purple), mostly on different plants, occasionally on same plants.
„The foliage has a sweet resinous scent and is a traditional insect repellent, used by campers to keep biting insects out of tents… In north-western Europe (Germany, Belgium and Great Britain), it was much used in a mixture called gruit as a flavouring for beer from the Middle Ages to the 16th century, but it fell into disuse after hops supplanted gruit herbs for political and economic reasons. In modern times, some brewers have revisited this historic technique and in Denmark and Sweden the plant is commonly used to prepare home-flavoured schnaps.“ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrica_gale
„Gale leaves have a nice, pleasant aromatic smell that increases when the leaves are dried. The taste is similar, but also somewhat bitter and astringent.“ http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com/engl/Myri_gal.html
„Myrica gale L. was harvested from wild populations in Scotland and Finland… Essential oil yield and composition were measured: leaf oil yield was 0.05-0.29%, flower oil yield 0.97%. Main components were α-pinene
(20.1-38.9%), 1,8-cineole (2.5-23.9%), germacrene (0.4-13.2%), and y-cadinene (8.4-21.0%).“
A comparision of the composition of the volatile oils of Myrica gale L. from various geographical locations (Scotland, Finland, Netherlands, Spain, USA, Canada) showed the common main components to be monoterpenes like α-pinene (3.0-41.4%), myrcene (1.3-29.1%), limonene (1.5-14.6%), and 1,8-cineole (0.1-20.0%).
[Svoboda, Katerina P., et al. „Biomass production, essential oil yield and composition of Myrica gale L. harvested from wild populations in Scotland and Finland.“ Flavour and Fragrance Journal 13.6 (1998): 367-372]
„Myrica gale L. (Myricaceae), a native plant from Canada used in traditional medicine, was extracted by hydrodistillation and the oil was collected after 30 and 60 min. The chemical composition of these two extracts was determined using GC-MS analysis. We identified 53 components and myrcene (23.18-12.14%), limonene (11.20-6.75%), α-phellandrene (9.90-6.49%) and β-caryophyllene (9.31-10.97%) were the major components in the 30- and 60-min fractions, respectively, whereas higher caryophyllene oxide content was detected in the 60-min fraction (9.94%) than in the 30-min fraction (3.47%).“
[Chemical composition and anticancer activity of leaf essential oil of Myrica gale L., Sylvestre, M., Legault, J., Dufour, D., Pichette, A., Phytomedicine, 12(4), 2005, 299-304]
„Characteristic volatiles detected from oil or extract of M. gale were the monoterpenes 1,8-cineole, α-terpineol, 4-terpineol and thujenol.“
[Evaluation of extracts and oils of tick‐repellent plants from Sweden., Jaenson, T.G., Pålsson, K., Borg‐Karlson, A.K., Medical and veterinary entomology, 19(4), 2005, 345-352]
The main volatiles from M. gale leaves or inflorescences were α-pinene, α-phellandrene, myrcene, and limonene.
[Evaluation of extracts and oils of mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) repellent plants from Sweden and Guinea-Bissau., Jaenson, T.G., Pålsson, K., Borg-Karlson, A.K., Journal of medical entomology, 43(1), 2006, 113-119]
„Major components of [Myrica gale] fruit essential oil are α-pinene (22.6%), 1,8-cineole (18.9%) and germacrone (14.2%), whereas they are germacrone (25.1%), α-pinene (12.2%), limonene (8.1%) and α-phellandrene (8.0%) for the leaf essential oil. Major volatile fruit compounds detected in HS-SPME were α-pinene, 1,8-cineole, p-cymene and eth-cadinene. As M. gale fruits are traditionally used in brewery for flavouring beer or as a spice in soups or stews, the antifungal properties of these essential oils were investigated on a panel of foodborne fungi, namely Aspergillus flavus, Cladosporium cladosporioides and Penicillium expansum. A complete antifungal activity was observed at 1000 ppm against C. cladosporioides. Both essential oil and entire fruits could thus be used as an additive in food or cosmetic preparations for their flavour, odour and their conservative properties.“
[Chemical composition of essential oil and headspace-solid microextracts from fruits of Myrica gale L. and antifungal activity., Popovici, J., Bertrand, C., Bagnarol, E., Fernandez, M.P., Comte, G., Natural product research, 22(12), 2008, 1024-1032]
Thomé,O.W., Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz, Tafeln, vol.2 t.167 (1885)
Myrica gale, Botanischer Garten der Universität Wien
© Rolf Marschner (2014), www.botanische-spaziergaenge.at