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Bog Rosemary

Andromeda polifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, heathland, parks, swamps, waterside, wetland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
The flowers of bog rosemary are small and bell-shaped, commonly displaying hues of pink or white. These delicate blossoms appear in late spring to early summer, contributing to the plant's overall charm. The floral clusters add a touch of elegance to the shrub, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
The fruit of bog rosemary consists of small, capsule-like structures. Within these capsules are numerous tiny seeds. The fruits develop after the flowering period and contribute to the reproductive cycle of the plant. While not as conspicuous as the flowers, the capsules add to the overall lifecycle and ecological significance of bog rosemary in the UK.
The leaves of bog rosemary are narrow and lance-shaped, featuring a smooth and waxy surface. These evergreen leaves persist throughout the year, contributing to the plant's ability to endure varying environmental conditions. The foliage is often arranged densely along the stems, forming low mats. The waxy coating on the leaves serves as an adaptation to minimize water loss, especially in the acidic and boggy habitats where bog rosemary commonly thrives in the UK.
Bog rosemary typically lacks a noticeable fragrance. Unlike some other flowering plants that are cultivated for their aromatic qualities, bog rosemary is not known for emitting a distinctive scent. Its appeal lies more in the visual beauty of its small, bell-shaped flowers and the overall elegance of the shrub rather than any notable fragrance.
Other Names:
Marsh Andromeda, Marsh Rosemary.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Andromeda polifolia, also known as "Bog Rosemary" or "Marsh Andromeda", is a species of evergreen shrub that is native to the boreal regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a small, low-growing shrub that can grow up to 2-3ft tall and wide. The leaves are glossy and dark green, and the flowers are small, bell-shaped and pink, white or red in color. They appear in clusters at the tips of the branches, usually blooming in spring. It prefers acidic, wet, peaty soil and partial shade. It is commonly found in bogs, fens, and other wetlands and it is tolerant of poor soil conditions, it is also known for its ability to tolerate cold temperatures and frost. The plant is also used for ornamental and horticultural purposes and for its medicinal properties.


Bog Rosemary, also known as Andromeda polifolia, is a small evergreen shrub that is native to the bogs and wetlands of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. The plant is a member of the heath family, which includes other popular garden plants like rhododendrons and azaleas. Although Bog Rosemary is not as well-known as these other plants, it has its own unique beauty and is worth considering for gardens that mimic its native habitat.

Description and Habitat

Bog Rosemary is a low-growing shrub that typically reaches a height of 3 foot and spreads out to form a dense mat. The leaves are small and narrow, about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) long, and arranged alternately along the stem. The foliage is evergreen, meaning it stays green throughout the year, providing some color in the otherwise bleak winter landscape.

The flowers of Bog Rosemary are small, bell-shaped, and typically white or pink. They appear in early summer and are arranged in clusters at the tips of the stems. The fruit that follows is a small, round capsule that contains numerous tiny seeds. The plant spreads slowly by rhizomes, which are underground stems that send out new shoots.

Bog Rosemary is adapted to growing in wet, acidic soil, such as in bogs, wetlands, and swamps. It is also found in subalpine and arctic habitats where the soil is cold and often covered in snow. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 2 to 6, meaning it can withstand cold temperatures down to -50°F (-46°C).

Cultivation and Uses

Bog Rosemary is not widely cultivated, but it is a popular choice for native plant gardens and bog gardens. It prefers moist, acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6.0, and full to partial sun. The plant can tolerate some shade, but too much will reduce flowering and growth.

In gardens, Bog Rosemary can be used as a groundcover or planted in groups to create a low-growing shrub border. It also works well in rock gardens and containers, where its fine texture and evergreen foliage can add interest. The plant is deer-resistant, making it a good choice for gardens where deer are a problem.

Bog Rosemary has some medicinal uses in traditional folk medicine, where it has been used to treat respiratory and digestive problems. However, it is important to note that the plant is toxic in large quantities and should not be consumed without proper medical supervision.


Bog Rosemary, also known as Andromeda polifolia, is a small evergreen shrub that is native to the wetlands and bogs of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. Although it is not as well-known as other garden plants, it has its own unique beauty and is worth considering for gardens that mimic its native habitat. With its low-growing habit, evergreen foliage, and delicate flowers, Bog Rosemary can add interest and texture to a variety of garden settings.

Blog continued...

Bog Rosemary is a fascinating plant with a rich cultural history. The plant's Latin name, Andromeda polifolia, comes from the Greek myth of Andromeda, a princess who was chained to a rock by the sea as a sacrifice to a sea monster. The goddess Athena then sent the hero Perseus to rescue her, and as a reward, the goddess placed Andromeda's image in the stars. The plant was named after Andromeda because of its association with bogs and wetlands, which were considered dangerous and mysterious places in ancient times.

In North America, the plant has been used by Indigenous peoples for a variety of purposes. The leaves have been used to make tea, which was used as a diuretic and to treat respiratory ailments. The plant was also used as a source of tannins for tanning leather, and the stems were used to make baskets and other woven items.

In modern times, Bog Rosemary has been used by horticulturists and landscape architects to create naturalistic garden designs that mimic the plant's native habitat. The plant's low-growing habit and fine texture make it a popular choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and other naturalistic garden settings. It is also a good plant for rain gardens and other areas with poor drainage, as it is well adapted to wet soil conditions.

Bog Rosemary has some unique adaptations that allow it to thrive in harsh wetland environments. The plant's evergreen leaves are small and narrow, which helps to reduce water loss through transpiration. The leaves are also covered with a thick layer of wax, which helps to repel water and prevent waterlogging. Additionally, the plant has a shallow root system that allows it to absorb nutrients and water from the surface of the soil.

Bog Rosemary is also an important plant for wildlife. The plant's flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The leaves are an important food source for moose and other herbivores, and the plant's dense, low-growing habit provides cover and nesting sites for small animals and birds.

Unfortunately, like many wetland species, Bog Rosemary is threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Wetlands are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, and the destruction of wetlands through drainage, development, and other activities has led to a decline in Bog Rosemary populations. In addition, the plant is often taken from the wild for use in horticulture, which can further deplete natural populations.

To protect Bog Rosemary and other wetland species, it is important to conserve and restore wetland habitats. This can be done through the preservation of existing wetlands, the restoration of degraded wetlands, and the creation of new wetlands. In addition, gardeners and landscapers can help to protect Bog Rosemary by choosing native plants for their gardens and avoiding the use of invasive species.

In conclusion, Bog Rosemary is a fascinating plant with unique adaptations and a rich cultural history. As a plant that thrives in wetland environments, it is an important indicator of the health of these ecosystems. By conserving and restoring wetlands, we can help to protect Bog Rosemary and other wetland species, while also preserving these important ecosystems for future generations.

25 Bonus Bog Rosmary Facts

  1. Scientific Name: The bog rosemary is scientifically known as Andromeda polifolia.

  2. Habitat: It is typically found in acidic, boggy environments such as peat bogs, heathlands, and wetlands.

  3. Evergreen Shrub: Bog rosemary is an evergreen shrub, retaining its leaves throughout the year.

  4. Size: It generally grows to a height of 15 to 50 centimeters, forming low, dense mats.

  5. Leaves: The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, and have a smooth, waxy surface that helps prevent water loss.

  6. Flowers: The small, bell-shaped flowers are usually pink or white and appear in late spring to early summer.

  7. Toxicity: Bog rosemary is toxic due to the presence of andromedotoxins, which can be harmful if ingested.

  8. Cultural Significance: Some indigenous cultures have traditional uses for bog rosemary, including medicinal applications.

  9. Native Range: It is native to northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.

  10. Adaptations: Bog rosemary is adapted to nutrient-poor soils and is well-suited to the challenging conditions of bog environments.

  11. Pollination: The flowers of bog rosemary are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects.

  12. Bog Ecosystem: It plays a role in the ecology of bog ecosystems, contributing to the unique flora of these environments.

  13. Slow Growth: Bog rosemary is known for its slow growth rate, taking several years to reach maturity.

  14. Fruit: The plant produces small, capsule-like fruits that contain numerous tiny seeds.

  15. Sun Requirements: It prefers partial to full sun exposure in its natural habitat.

  16. Dwarf Varieties: Some varieties of bog rosemary are dwarf-sized, making them suitable for rock gardens or containers.

  17. Soil pH: Bog rosemary thrives in acidic soils with pH levels ranging from 3.5 to 5.

  18. Conservation: In some regions, bog rosemary populations are vulnerable due to habitat loss and degradation.

  19. Disease Resistance: It is generally resistant to many diseases and pests that affect other plants.

  20. Landscape Use: Bog rosemary is sometimes used in landscaping for its attractive foliage and unique appearance.

  21. Waterlogged Conditions: It can tolerate waterlogged conditions, as its natural habitat often includes saturated soils.

  22. Winter Interest: The evergreen nature of bog rosemary provides winter interest in landscapes.

  23. Land Reclamation: In some areas, bog rosemary is used in bog land reclamation projects to stabilize the soil.

  24. Propagation: It can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, or division.

  25. Endangered Status: In some regions, bog rosemary populations are considered endangered or threatened, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts.


Bog Rosemary filmed at Roudsea Wood in Cumbria on the 13th August 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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