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Andromeda polifolia


  Joanne Kline. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin State Herbarium.
Taylor, Jane E. 2007. Andromeda polifolia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].




bog rosemary

The scientific name of bog rosemary is Andromeda polifolia L. (Ericaceae) [56,60,69].

Infrataxa: Based primarily on distribution, plant size, and pedicel length, some systematists recognize 3 varieties of bog rosemary [56,60,69]:

Andromeda polifolia L. var. jamesiana (Lepage) Boivin
Andromeda polifolia
L. var. glaucophylla (Link) DC
Andromeda polifolia L. var. polifolia

The taxonomy of bog rosemary has been amended in recent years. A. glaucophylla and A. polifolia were once considered distinct species, and A. polifolia var. jamesiana was once considered intermediate between the 2 species [52,56,89].

Within this review, unless otherwise specified, "bog rosemary" refers to the species as a whole.

Andromeda glaucophylla Link [10,15,42,56,84,89,92,100]
A. glaucophylla var. iodandra Fern [56]
A. polifolia ssp. glaucophylla (Link) Hultn [50,52,56]
   =A. polifolia L. var. glaucophylla (Link) DC. [56,60,69,84]

A. polifolia var. concolor Boivin [52,56]
   = A. polifolia L. var. polifolia L. [56]

A. jamesiana Lepage (A. glaucophylla A. polifolia) [56,89]
   =A. polifolia
L. var. jamesiana (Lepage) Boivin [56]


No special status

Information on state-level protected status of plants in the United States is available at Plants Database.


SPECIES: Andromeda polifolia
Bog rosemary is circumboreal and circumpolar [53]. In North America bog rosemary is transcontinental, occurring from Greenland westward through all of the Canadian provinces to Alaska and south to Washington and Idaho. It occurs south along the north Atlantic coast to New Jersey and west to Illinois and Minnesota [50,56,100]. Plants Database provides distributional maps of bog rosemary and its infrataxa in the US.

Infrataxa: A. polifolia var. polifolia has a distribution similar to that of A. polifolia, but does not occur on the northern islands of Nunavut. In the US it occurs in New York and Washington and is rarely found in Idaho and Connecticut [56].

A. polifolia var. glaucophylla is distributed from Greenland west to Nunavut and Saskatchewan, south to New Jersey and West Virginia, and west to Illinois and Minnesota [56]. This variety historically occurred in Ohio, but may have been extirpated [2,100].

A. polifolia var. jamesiana only occurs in limited locations in Quebec, Ontario, and Nunavut [56].

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES44 Alpine

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
United States



1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
8 Northern Rocky Mountains

K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest

1 Jack pine
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce-tamarack
38 Tamarack
204 Black spruce
253 Black spruce-white spruce
254 Black spruce-paper birch

904 Black spruce-lichen
912 Low scrub shrub birch-ericaceous
916 Sedge-shrub tundra
918 Tussock tundra
919 Wet meadow tundra
921 Willow

Bog rosemary typically occurs in boreal and polar sphagnum (Sphagnum spp.)- and sedge (Carex spp. and Eriophorum spp.)- dominated bog, swamp, peatland, and fen communities. These communities often have a scattered component of scrubby conifers, most commonly black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina), and ericaceous (Ericaceae) shrubs such as leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Labrador tea (Ledum spp.), and bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia). Vegetation typings that discuss plant communities in which bog rosemary is a dominant species are listed below. The list is neither restrictive nor all inclusive.

Alaska: Michigan: Minnesota: New Jersey: Wisconsin: Alberta: Atlantic Seaboard of Canada: British Columbia: Manitoba: Newfoundland:


SPECIES: Andromeda polifolia
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification of bog rosemary are available (e.g. [42,49,50,69,92,100]).

Bog rosemary is a native, low-growing, spreading, evergreen shrub with a height range of 2 inches to 2.6 feet (5-80 cm). A. polifolia var. glaucophylla is the larger variety, with a height range of 1 to 2.6 feet (30-80 cm). A. polifolia var. polifolia tends to be smaller, with a height range of 2 to 16 inches (5-40 cm), but is typically less than 8 inches (30 cm) tall [15,58,76,89,96]. The leaves are leathery and glaucous underneath [58]. The inflorescence is a nodding, terminal umbel bearing 1 to 4 urn-shaped, perfect flowers. The fruit is a 5-valved, spherical, many-seeded, dry capsule 0.1 to 0.2 inch (3-6 mm) in diameter [58,96]. Bog rosemary produces creeping horizontal rhizomes [53,58]. In southern New Brunswick, rhizomes of A. polifolia var. glaucophylla were found at a depth of 7.5 inches (19 cm) in a treeless bog and 14.6 inches (37 cm) in a black spruce bog [33,35]. Roots of bog rosemary may reach a depth of 17.7 inches (45 cm), and 75% to 98% of the plant biomass is below ground. There is no measurable fine root growth below 3.9 to 5.9 inches (10-15 cm). Fine roots comprise about 24% of the total belowground biomass [53]. A. polifolia var. polifolia is often prostrate with "freely rooting" stems that produce roots along the nodes [89,96]

FloodingBog rosemary has high flood tolerance and is typically found growing in bogs and other wet sites [53,58,94,100].


Bog rosemary primarily regenerates vegetatively by rhizomes [58]. A. polifolia var. polifolia also has stems that root along the nodes [96]. Bog rosemary can reproduce from seeds, but seedling establishment in nature is apparently rare, and vegetative reproduction is presumably more important than that by seeds [53].

Pollination: Bog rosemary can be self pollinated and is considered highly self fertile [38]. Self pollination readily takes place in bog rosemary when the flowers are newly expanded because the stigma is situated quite close to the anthers, and pollen grains are trapped by hairs lining the corolla [53,80]. Flowers are also pollinated by bumblebees, honeybees, syrphid flies, and butterflies [3,53,79,80]. Some research suggests that insect pollination is very important, or even required, for seed production in bog rosemary. In a Swedish pollination study, Froborg [38] reported that self-pollinated flowers did not differ from open-pollinated flowers in the percent of flowers producing fruit, but the percent of seed set per ovule was significantly lower (P<0.001) with self pollination. In a pollination study of A. polifolia var. glaucophylla in Ontario, Reader [79] found that the number of seed bearing fruits was reduced significantly (P<0.01) when insects were prevented from visiting flowers by mesh bags. The number of fruits producing seeds ranged from 0 to 1.5 on bagged plants, and 26.1 to 40.8 for nonbagged plants.

Breeding system: Bog rosemary is monoecious [53].

Seed production: Bog rosemary produces 1 to 44 seeds per fruit, of which 10 to 20 are usually viable [53].

Seed dispersal: Campbell and others [14] suggest that the potential for wind dispersal of bog rosemary seeds is low because the seeds are enclosed in fleshy fruits. However, Jacquemart [53] writes "the small seeds of bog rosemary are presumably wind dispersed". Perhaps she is speaking to seed dispersal after the fruit has worn away. The fruits have a potential for animal dispersal [14]; however, it is unlikely that the bitter fruits would be eaten in quantity [96]. The fruits of A. polifolia var. glaucophylla have been found to float for 72 hours, indicating a potential for water dispersal of seed [14].

Seed banking: In a seed banking study of a bog in Finland, viable seeds of bog rosemary were found in the soil surface layer and at a depth of 15.7 to 19.7 inches (40-50 cm) [55]. According to Jacquemart [53], bog rosemary is often "under-represented" in the seed banks of sphagnum bogs in the British Isles.

Germination: Bog rosemary seeds require cold stratification to germinate [4]. The seeds must stay in the soil for at least 1 year before they can germinate. The best available information on seed germination comes from a Belgian greenhouse study. The average germination time was 13 days. Seeds collected in October germinated at a rate of 66.5% at 77 F (25 C) and 16 hours of light. Germination rate was only 24% to 27% in shade or darkness. The study found that cold temperatures reduced bog rosemary seed germination. Germination rates reached 72% at 86 F (30 C), but dropped to 27% at 59 F (15 C). Germination period was 8 days at 86 F (30 C) and 34 days at 59 F (15 C). Chilling treatments in which the seeds were immersed in moist sand at 39.2 F (4 C) did not increase the germination rate, but germination was faster (11 versus 13 days). Two months of dry storage at -4 F (-20 C) was damaging to seeds and resulted in a 4% germination rate [53]. In the first few years following a fire, spring and summer soil temperatures may increase due to the removal of surface litter and overstory vegetation that once shaded the soil surface. According to the results of the germination study, these warmer soil temperatures may favor the germination of banked bog rosemary seeds.

Seedling establishment/growth: Seedling development in bog rosemary is relatively slow. In greenhouse studies, 11 days are required after radicle emergence before the first 2 cotyledons appear. The first 2 foliage leaves appear 18 to 28 days after radicle emergence. After 6 weeks the seedling consists of a slender vertical shoot, 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1-2 cm) long [53].

Froborg [38] states that seedling establishment of bog rosemary and other clonal plants is "infrequent, but important, in disturbed areas". When dispersal and new establishment of bog rosemary occurs, it is presumably by seed [30,53].

On a milled peatland in Quebec, 6 to 20 years after harvesting, bog rosemary had failed to recolonize the disturbed area although it was present in the adjacent undisturbed peatlands. This may have been the result of establishment failure or failure to disperse [14]. Additional information on seedling establishment is lacking, and more studies are needed.

Vegetative regeneration: Bog rosemary sprouts readily from rhizomes that produce roots and aboveground shoots. Shoots develop from the terminal ends of the rhizomes [53]. The creeping stems of A. polifolia var. polifolia commonly root along the nodes [96], but there is no discussion in the literature regarding stem rooting as a mode of regeneration following disturbance.

Bog rosemary inhabits moist to wet sites including bogs, fens, muskegs, conifer swamps, and wet sedge tundra in lowland, subboreal, boreal, boreal-alpine, and boreal-montane zones in arctic and subarctic regions [53,58,89,96]. Soils are typically poorly drained and highly acidic, with a deep peat layer [8,106]. Often bog rosemary is found growing on floating sphagnum-heath mats [68,70,100]. Tiner [94] lists bog rosemary as an "obligate hydrophyte", meaning it has a greater than 90% probability of occurring in wetlands versus nonwetlands.

Bog rosemary commonly thrives in ombrotrophic peat bogs dominated by sphagnum mosses. In ombrotrophic bogs, all water and nutrients are the result of direct precipitation; neither ground water nor surface runoff reach the bog surface [12,53,105]. These bogs are always acidic, available nutrients are in short supply, and they stay cold beneath the surface peat layers. These conditions retard decay and result in thick peat accumulation [82,86]. In Alaska bog rosemary was found growing in an ombrotrophic bog in which the peat layer was more than 26.3 feet (8 m) thick [51]. Bog rosemary does not require acidic conditions; it reportedly can grow in soils with a pH range of 3.0 to 7.9 [61]. However, its ability to tolerate both the acid and high water levels allows it to thrive in bog systems [47].

In the northern Lake States, A. polifolia var. glaucophylla is found growing in both ombrotrophic bogs and calcium- and magnesium-rich minerotrophic bogs [7]. It is considered an indicator of "weakly minerotrophic waters" in which the pH values tend to range from 5.8 to 7.0 [46].

In northern Manitoba bog rosemary grows in boreal permafrost peatlands. These permafrost plateaus float about 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) above the regional water table because of the volumetric expansion and buoyancy of frozen peat [12].

Bog rosemary is able to grow in dry soils and can persist in drained bogs long after the sphagnum mosses have disappeared [53,70].

In the central Brooks Range, Alaska, bog rosemary is only found growing on soils of noncalcareous origin [20].

Bog rosemary is not extremely cold tolerant when actively growing. Freezing injury occurs whenever temperatures fall below the freezing point destroying current shoot tips and flowers. Frost damage induces the growth of dormant buds on the current shoots, particularly those near the shoot tips, and total shoot height after slight frost damage may exceed that of undamaged shoots [53].

Bog rosemary can be found at a wide range of elevations, growing at nearly sea level to subalpine elevations [62,76]. The elevation range for bog rosemary in the Adirondacks is listed as 1,550 to 1,730 feet (472-527 m), but the actual range could probably be extended in both directions [60]. In British Columbia, bog rosemary occurs from 20 to 5,561 feet (6-1,695 m) [58]. No other specific elevation ranges for bog rosemary were found in the literature.

A commonly described model of bog succession is as follows: open water to aquatic plants, to a sedge mat, to a sphagnum-shrub bog, to a bog forest. In this model, bog rosemary is an initial invader of the sedge mat and persists at lessening degrees of importance throughout the sphagnum-shrub bog, remaining a relict into the early open stage of the bog forest [11,19,21,23,41,86]. Bog rosemary is most conspicuous in the sedge mat and early stages of the sphagnum-shrub bog because it prefers wetter, less acidic environments [19,54], and it is shade intolerant [57]. Because of its short growth habit, bog rosemary is often engulfed by the vigorous growth of the Sphagnum mosses [21,47]. In the later stages of bog development, the acidity increases, and while bog rosemary persists, it is replaced in dominance by other shrubs, commonly leatherleaf [19].

The bog stage is very long lived and extremely stable in the absence of disturbance [23]. Stability of the successional stages is directly related to water levels, which are dependent on the relationship between precipitation and evapotransporation and on surface or subsurface water movements [46]. If water levels remain stable, the sphagnum-shrub bog may persist indefinitely due to low decomposition and mineralization rates [61]. Periodic flooding aids in the perpetuation of bog flora [68]. A flood event that results in prolonged raising of the water level destroys bog vegetation and may return the system to open water [90]. Prolonged dry periods result in a lowering of the water table and a more rapid succession toward bog forest [86]. When bogs are drained, the peat mats dry very slowly. The Sphagnum mosses die as the mats dries out, but the shrubs, such as bog rosemary, may flourish for decades [70,71]. The draining of peatlands in Ohio forced a succession toward a northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) swamp forest [2].

Fire can maintain bogs in early stages of succession, i.e., sedge meadows or shrub bogs [24,41,61,99], because often it only burns the aboveground plant parts, allowing the existing shrubs to sprout [64]. Bog rosemary is likely to survive low severity fires in bogs because of the depth of its rhizomes, and it is often one of the first plants to colonize burned bogs [33,41]. Under wet conditions fires in a young bog forest may kill the trees yet leave the undergrowth virtually untouched because the peat is water saturated. The result of such a burn is an immediate return to the sphagnum-shrub bog [62,64]. Tamarack and black spruce establish from banked seed and any cones that escaped destruction [16]. During prolonged periods of dry conditions, the bog may dry out enough to burn, and a considerable volume of the surface peat and vegetation may by consumed. Fire that burns deeply into the peat kills underground plant parts and banked seeds [9,16]. The loss of peat volume results in raised water levels, which kill surviving trees and less flood-tolerant species, so the site regresses toward the more hydrophytic communities [64,86,90].

A successional pathway following fire in a peat plateau is described in a study conducted in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories. Vegetation data were collected in areas of the plateau that had last burned 4, 53, and 92 years before. Four years after a fire, bog rosemary was one of the most represented plant species, at 14% cover. After 50 years bog rosemary represented 8% of the plant cover, sphagnum hummocks were formed, Labrador teas were prominent, and the reindeer lichens were becoming abundant. After 90 years, bog rosemary represented 4% of the plant cover, black spruce trees 16 to 32 feet tall (5-10 m) were scattered throughout the area, the sphagnum hummocks were dominated by marsh Labrador tea, and reindeer lichens comprised a large percentage of the total plant cover [85].

Leaves of bog rosemary remain green through at least 1 winter and remain green for up to 4 years. Shoot growth starts in late spring or early summer and lasts about 2 months. Flowering begins soon after the start of shoot growth [53]. The following table summarizes reported flowering months for bog rosemary:

Anthesis periods for bog rosemary

State, province, or region Flowering months
AK June to early July [96]
IL May to June [69]
WV May to July [92]
Adirondacks late May to mid-June [15,60]
Northeastern US and Canada late May to mid-June [42]
BC May to Aug [58]
ON May to June [89]

Duration of flowering is usually 2 to 3 weeks depending on climatic conditions [3]. Flower buds for the next summer are set in midsummer. Fruits mature in late July and August and often persist into winter [89,96].


SPECIES: Andromeda polifolia
Fire adaptations: Bog rosemary is adapted to fire by sprouting quickly and prolifically from rhizomes after the aboveground parts are killed [33,35,53]. Bog rosemary could potentially reestablish from banked seeds [55] following a fire, but no reports of this occurring have been found in the literature.

Fire regimes: Fires in peat bog lands where bog rosemary commonly occurs tend to burn in irregular patterns with varying degrees of severity [1], affected by the spatial variability in species composition and site hydrology [5]. Bogs burn only in extremely dry years and typically originate in adjacent upland forest sites [33]. Fires can be severe enough to kill aboveground plant parts, and yet the high surface temperatures in organic soils are not transmitted deeply into the soil profile because of the insulating effects of the peat. Early revegetation in burned bogs can be rapid because plants that existed prior to the fire sprout from roots and rhizomes [35,72]. On rare occasions, in extremely dry conditions, peat fires can burn for weeks or months with a high degree of smoldering [5]. The depth of the burn may vary from an inch to several feet, and a large volume of peat can be consumed [39].

Peat plateaus form in continental northern climates of severe winters and low snowfall when the peat body lifts as a result of freeze and thaw cycles within the waterlogged core. These plateaus are subject to recurrent burning because their surfaces are high and well-drained relative to surrounding wetlands. They also carry an abundance of flammable fuel: black spruce with branches close to the ground, resinous ericaceous shrubs, and feathermosses (Hylocomium spp.) and lichens that dry quickly after rain. Peat plateaus situated on the lowest parts of the alluvial flats burn rarely compared to those at higher elevations. On a peat plateau in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, the fire return interval was estimated at 35 to 170 years [85].

Bog rosemary persists in the early stages of tamarack, black spruce, and jack pine forest succession in wet, open areas that usually have many of the same site characteristics as conifer bogs. Conifer bogs are generally not as prone to fire as other forest stand types because they tend to occupy depressions and lowlands and are wetter. The high water table, green understory, and thick, wet organic layer render conifer bogs unsusceptible to fire except in severe drought years. Conifer bogs are often spared from large, high severity forest fires that occur in adjacent uplands, leaving unburned pockets of trees that become important seed sources for the regeneration of burned forest [28,73]. Conifer bog fires occur during prolonged droughts conditions when the water table drops and the forest floor becomes thoroughly desiccated. Ignition typically occurs on adjacent uplands in late July to September during rainless thunderstorms. Under these conditions, with sufficient winds, the trees in conifer bogs can sustain major crown fires [28]. Heinselman [48] estimated the fire return interval for large forested spruce bogs in Minnesota was 100 to 150 years. Fuel loadings in conifer bogs are highly variable because of the multiple combinations of species found in this forest type [28].

The arctic sheathed cottonsedge tussock communities in which bog rosemary occurs have relatively small quantities of flammable vegetation, and the peaty substrate is wet even in years of low precipitation. Burns can be severe enough to kill all aboveground plant parts, but belowground parts are well protected by tussock bases, moss mats, and peat. Following these low-severity fires, new growth primarily comes from plant stocks protected by the organic surface, and new species rarely invade the burned area [72,103]. Arctic sheathed cottonsedge tussock communities occur on permafrost-influenced terrain, and fires on these sites can cause changes in soil properties. Surface fires rarely affect the depth of the active layer; however, removal of the vegetation and some or all of the organic layer can cause the depth of the active layer to increase. Soils tend to become drier and warmer due to the removal of the insulative moss mat, the removal of shading by vegetation, and reduced albedo of the burned surface. When the organic horizons survive the fire, the amount of postfire thaw is minimized [9,93,103].

The following table provides fire-return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where bog rosemary is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below. This list may not be inclusive for all plant communities in which bog rosemary occurs. Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".

Fire-return intervals for plant communities with bog rosemary

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
tamarack Larix laricina 35-200 [74]
Great Lakes spruce-fir Picea-Abies spp. 35 to >200
black spruce Picea mariana 35-200
conifer bog* Picea mariana-Larix laricina 35-200 [28]
jack pine Pinus banksiana <35 to 200 [18,28]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Small shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Andromeda polifolia
Surface fires can kill the aboveground parts of bog rosemary, but if the organic layer is not burned, the roots and rhizomes usually survive [33,41]. Fires that burn deeply into the peat kill the roots and rhizomes [9,16].

Because A. polifolia var. polifolia produces rooting stems, it may be possible that prostrate branches protected by organic duff during a light surface fire will survive and take root. However, no information was found in the literature to support this possibility and more studies are needed.

Moisture content and amount of organic material affect heat penetration into soil which, in turn, affects the survival of rhizomes and roots. Dry soils get hotter in the upper layers than do wet soils, but moisture increases the heat penetration deeper into the soil profile. Dry soils may heat up to lethal temperatures more quickly and retain high heat longer than wet soils. In one laboratory simulation using dried soils from a black spruce stand, fire residing in one spot on the surface for 70 minutes produced temperatures hot enough to kill plants parts at a depth of 3.5 inches (9 cm). Bog rosemary is well adapted to survive this level of heat intensity by the depth of its underground parts, with its roots 17.7 inches (45 cm) deep [53] and rhizomes 7.5 to 14.6 inches (19-37 cm) deep [35]. High surface temperatures are not transmitted deeply into the profile of organic soils because of the insulating effects of the organic matter [35].

Bog rosemary sprouts from rhizomes following fire [33,35,41,53]. Reestablishment of bog rosemary after fire could possibly include banked seeds [55] or seeds dispersed to the site by wind, water or animals [53]. However, seedling establishment by bog rosemary in nature is reportedly rare [14,53], and no reports were found in the literature indicating seedling establishment following fire.

Spring and fall burns appear to favor bog rosemary regeneration. A propane torch was used to simulate a low severity surface fire in an open tamarack bog forest in the Acadian Forest Region, New Brunswick. Plots were burned in May, July, or September, and a temperature of 131 F (55 C) was reached for at least 5 minutes to a soil depth of 0.8 inch (2 cm). Revegetation data were collected 1, 3, and 5 months after fire. Bog rosemary showed "good regrowth" from rhizomes at 3 and 5 months after fire. There was also an increase in stem density of bog rosemary relative to prefire measurements: the relative abundance of bog rosemary was negligible before fire, 36% at 3 postfire months on the May-burned plots, and 34% at 3 postfire months on the September-burned plots. No regrowth was observed in the July-burned plots, presumably because plant photosynthates had been used for the production of new shoots and leaves and reserves had not yet been replenished [34,35].

High-severity summer peat fires may reduce bog rosemary populations in some bogs. In a vegetation study in a peat bog in Michigan's Upper Peninsula 3 years after a summer wildfire, bog rosemary was largely absent from burned plots but abundant in unburned plots [1].

Recurring fire may be detrimental to bog rosemary and other ericaceous shrubs. A vegetation study was carried out in the Powell-Flambeau Marsh in north-central Wisconsin. All burned plots in the study had been subjected to an average of 1.7 wildfires between 1928 and 1948. Additionally, all plots were subjected to a prescribed burn between 1957 and 1961. Vegetation was sampled the first or second year following prescribed burning, and the ericaceous shrubs decreased in frequency on the burned plots versus unburned controls [98]:

Average frequency of ericaceous shrubs on control and burned plots


Average % Plant Frequency

Control Plots Burned Plots
leatherleaf 90.4 82.5
bog rosemary 46.8 29.3
bog laurel 36.8 9.3
bog Labrador tea 19.6 <1

Following European settlement, bog shrub habitat in Wisconsin was perpetuated by logging and subsequent burning that removed the northern white-cedar, black spruce, and tamarack components and allowed bog rosemary to sprout and occupy the site [39].

Sedge meadows are desirable wildlife habitat in some areas because they allow for the greatest movement, feeding, and nesting of a variety of song and game birds [99]. Prescribed fire can be used to remove trees and tall shrubs and maintain the meadows in early stages of succession. Burning is most effective in early spring when the ground frost and/or high soil moisture reduces the chance of a peat-consuming fire. Prescribed burns may be carried out at other times provided fuel loads, soil moisture, and climatic conditions are acceptable [81].


SPECIES: Andromeda polifolia
Bog rosemary contains a poisonous glucoside called andromedotoxin. Domestic browsing animals usually reject bog rosemary, but the plant has killed domestic sheep [26]. The heather vole feeds on leaves and fruits of bog rosemary [37]. Bog rosemary was found in rumen samples of barren-ground caribou in northern Canada, but only in minute amounts. The caribou eat bog rosemary in November and January, when the animals frequent the muskegs [67,87]. Moose on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska may occasionally feed on bog rosemary in all months of the year on heavily used range [63], and in Lapland, capercaille will feed on the bog rosemary leaves [77].

Palatability/nutritional value: Leaves of bog rosemary collected in the spring from the crops of capercaille in Lapland had a nutritive content of 11.6% crude protein and 4.2% crude fat [77].

Cover value: Bog communities in the northern US where bog rosemary occurs are commonly inhabited by a variety of birds, particularly geese, ducks, and sharp-tailed grouse [98]. Many song birds including the common snipe, red-winged blackbird, eastern kingbird, swamp sparrow, and common yellowthroat are frequent inhabitants of bog communities [25,31].

Bog rosemary has naturally recolonized harvested peatlands in the British Isles. It grows readily on dry soils, but is often a late colonist of wetter soils [53]. No reports were found in which bog rosemary was specifically planted for the purpose of rehabilitating disturbed sites.

Bog rosemary is planted as an ornamental, although it is reportedly hard to grow. It may be collected as seed, stem cuttings, or plant divisions. Seeds should be sown in February or March, and should be cold-stratified at 53.6 F (12 C) for 1 to 2 months before planting. Seedlings should be grown for at least 2 years before outplanting, and they should be overwintered in a greenhouse. Seedlings can be planted in early summer once they reach 6 inches (15 cm) in height. Cuttings of bog rosemary should be collected in November and December. Cuttings planted in summer take root in about 15 months. Plant divisions should be collected in the early spring [107]. The plants should be "dropped" beforehand, which entails digging up the plant 6 to 12 months earlier and replanting it somewhat more deeply. The buried branches then root and form new plants when divided [75].

Cultivated varieties of bog rosemary have been developed, including 'Blue Ice', 'Grandiflora Compacta', and 'Nana' [66].

The andromedotoxin found in all parts of bog rosemary plants is poisonous to humans, causing low blood pressure, breathing problems, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea [76].

Many historical areas of bog habitat have been destroyed through cutting, clearing, burning, ditching, pasturing, and cultivation. Some bogs were lost when bottomlands were developed into lakes for recreation or irrigation, and some were converted to commercial cranberry (V. macrocarpon) marshes. Bogs have been drained and the sphagnum moss harvested and dried for use in the florist and horticultural industries [2,23,86]. It is estimated that by 1991, 98% of the peatlands in Ohio had been lost due to human activity, resulting in the presumed extirpation of bog rosemary from that state [2]. A leatherleaf-bog rosemary association was once common in the peatlands of southern Wisconsin, but now it has largely disappeared due to the human-caused draining of the bogs [39].

Andromeda polifolia: REFERENCES

1. Anderson, Stanley H. 1982. Effects of the 1976 Seney National Wildlife Refuge wildfire on wildlife and wildlife habitat. Resource Publication 146. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 28 p. [52897]
2. Andreas, Barbara K.; Knoop, Jeffrey K. 1992. 100 years of changes in Ohio peatlands. Ohio Journal of Science. 92(5): 130-138. [21274]
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