Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Andromeda polifolia - Bog-rosemary

Family: Ericaceae (Crowberry) [E-flora]

"Andromeda polifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist or wet soil." [PFAF]

General: "Low spreading shrub from a creeping or horizontal rhizome; stems ascending, 5-80 cm tall, glabrous." [IFBC-E-flora]

Lookalikes: "The leaves resemble those of the common medicinal Ledum palustre (ayuq). However, ayuq has fine red hairs on the back of the leaves and a strong aromatic odor, while bog rosemary’s leaves are white on the back and have no odor. The flowers also have a different shape" [Jernigan EYK]

Habitat / Range "Bogs, fens, and swamps in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK, E to C AB, and N PQ; Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

"This woody sub-shrub has a northern circumpolar distribution and is found throughout all of Alaska." [Jernigan EYK]

Status: Native. [E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
"A very shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, circumpolar forb (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on wet to very wet, nitrogen-poor soils (Mor humus forms) within boreal. cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates. Inhabits water-collecting sites with large accumulations of peat. Occasional amidst Sphagnum species in peat bogs. An oxylophytic species characteristic of nutrient-poor wetlands." (Applies to Coastal Locations)[IPBC-E-flora]

Edible Uses
Other Uses
Medicinal Uses


"Species of the Ericaceae in general tend to be manganese accumulators (Korcak 1988)." [Jacquemart,1998]

"Tamas et al. (1975) found in the leaves 0.934% dry weight of quercetol, 4.3% dry weight of triterpenes, four different glucosides and 75 phenyl-propanoid compounds of the caffeic acid type. Pachaly & Klein (1987) found in the aerial parts an iridoidglucoside, gardenoside, a quercetin-3-a-L-arabinopyranoside, guaijaverine, a quercetin-3-a-L-arabinofuranoside, avicularine, and a flavonol-dipentoside, polifolioside." [Jacquemart,1998]

Epicuticular wax 0.91-0.94 % fresh wt. of leaves [Salasoo,1987]

"On Gaultheria shallon as well as on Andromeda polifolia, galangin-3-methyl ether is the only flavonoid aglycone we could detect." [Wollenweber, 1984]

Cultivation & Propagation

"Requires a well-drained, moisture-retentive, lime-free, humus- rich soil and a shady position[133, 182, 200]. Plants spread slowly by means of suckers when they are grown in a suitable position[182]. A very ornamental plant, there are many named varieties[182]." [PFAF]

"Seed - sow February/March in an acid compost in the greenhouse. Surface sow or only just cover the seed and place in a lightly shaded position[78, 133]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 12oc[133]. Prick out the young seedlings into individual pots as soon as possible, they are prone to damp-off and so should be kept well ventilated[78]. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in early summer once they are 15cm or more tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame in a shady position. Takes 15 months[78]. Layering in August in a semi-shady position. Takes 18 months[78]. Division in early spring. The plants should be 'dropped' beforehand[78]. This entails digging up the plant 6 to 12 months earlier and replanting it somewhat more deeply. The buried branches will then root and form new plants when divided." [PFAF]


"Exobasidium vaccinii (Fuck.) Woron. causes variation of the flavonoids, anthocyanins and triterpenes content in the leaves (Tamas et al. 1975; Farr et al. 1989). Hegi (Fl. 1, ed. 3) also recorded Exobasidium vaccinii forma andromedae (Peck.) Voss. on the leaves." [Jacquemart,1998]


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