Sweet Gale, Sweet Willow, or Dutch Myrtle, Myrica gale, L. is an indigenous low plant, growing abundantly on bogs, in gravelly soils, and flowering in the month of May. - It is eaten by horses and goats, but not relished by sheep and cows.
This plant was formerly, by the northern nations, used as a substitute for hops; but unless it be boiled for a considerable time, it is apt to occasion the head-ach.-Dr. Withering is of opinion, that from the catkins of this vegetable, if gathered in sufficient quantities, good candles might be manufactured ; as, upon boiling those parts in water, a waxy scum may be perceived to rise to the surface.— In the currying of leather, especially the softer kinds, this shrub is of the greatest utility. When reduced to powder, it affords a grateful perfume in the composition ot ointments; andBECHSTEiN asserts, that it is likewise serviceable for the expulsion of moths from clothes. - The Norwegians smoke the leaves mixed with tobacco, •which they are supposed greatly to improve. - A decoction of the plant is used for the destruction of bugs and other vermin. - In dye-ing, the bruised flower-buds and seeds yield a yellow colour.— Lastly, an odoriferous essential oil may be distilled from this aromatic shrub.
The sweet gale may be propagated either by seed, or, more speedily, by the divided roots, which thrive in almost every kind of soil, if it be sufficiently •wa-tered.
There is another species of the gale, namely, the myrica cerifera, from which the inhabitants of Louisiana prepare myrtle candles ; it is also used for tanning calf-skins. -It may be reared in gardens by the seed, which produces numerous sprigs ; but, as the stems are apt ,to decay, they ought to be changed, at least once in ten years, by new root-stalks.