#12 Bog Myrtle

Bog Myrtle


Usually growing in acidic fens or peat bogs, bog myrtle or sweetgale (Myrica gale) with its tapering leaves looks like a small laurel or rhododendron bush. It bears both male and female flowers, with the male blossoms being reddish cones that open into composite yellow clusters and the female flowers small reddish catkins (Hogan 908). According to Roger Darlington on his massive website Wild Flower Finder, the plant is occasionally androgynous: “male and female flowers are on separate plants, but occasionally monoecious with both male and female flowers (catkins) on the same plant. Individual plants are also known to have changed sex from year to year.” <http://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Flowers/B/BogMyrtle/BogMyrtle.htm; accessed 1/13/18>
While I seriously doubt that Woolf knew of the plant’s transitional sexuality, it is rather amusing and appropriate that bog myrtle makes its only appearance in Orlando where, just before she meets her soul mate Shelmerdine, the now-female Orlando runs wild over the moors declaring herself to be, in full Romantic fashion “nature’s bride” (O 182). In her enthusiasm she trips over “tough heather roots,” and lying in the grass, breathes in the “scent of the bog myrtle and the meadow sweet,” declaring that she has found “a greener laurel than the bay” (O 182).  Bog myrtle is one of several wild plants mentioned in Orlando, such as meddlers, meadow sweet, and nettles, briars, bracken, gorse, and furze which reflect her friend Vita’s delight in native and woodsy plants.

See Works Cited Page for full documentation

No comments:

Post a Comment

About 98 Flowers

Welcome to the Virginia Woolf Herbarium.  For many years I have been researching and writing about Virginia Woolf and parks, gardens, and fl...