hist-brewing: Re: hist-brewing-digest V1 #497

Hiram Berry burningb at burningbridges.com
Fri Dec 31 16:01:35 PST 1999

Jeff Renner <nerenner at umich.edu> wrote:
> Dan McFeeley <mcfeeley at keynet.net> wrote:
> >On Thursday, 12/30/99 -0800, Jeff Renner wrote:
> >
> >>I don't know whether or not marsh rosemary is the same as bog rosemary,
> <snip>
> >I don't think they're the same -- Marsh rosemary is otherwise known as
> >ledum palustre, although it is a member of the Ericaceae family
> Thanks for that clarification.  It does raise another question.  My copy
> Gleason and Cronquist's _Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United
> States and Adjacent Canada_ (1963) lists only one member of the genus
> _Ledum_, Labrador Tea, for which it has the name of _L groenlandicum_
> Oeder.  Evidently found first in Greenland, judging by the specific
> epithet.  Of course, nomenclature is in a constant state of flux, but this
> source, at least, does not suggest marsh rosemary is found in the NE US.

Indeed, Jeff, nomenclature may be at the heart of your problem in finding
this plant. I've encountered several writers who classified groenlandicum as
a subspecies of L. palustre.  They're certainly very similar in appearance--
there are a few sites on the web that have photos of specimen plants; from
those I saw of each of the plants, I wouldn't be able to differentiate.  The
info at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden site states that, for groenlandicum at
least, it is native from New England all the way west to the Pacific coast
(Michigan is specifically mentioned in the range). L. palustre seems to have
a worldwide circumpolar distribution in the boreal forest zone, being so
plentiful in Alaska for instance that its prevalence can be gauged from
aerial photography.

A real source of confusion is that a few years ago the genus Ledum was
reclassified by some into the Rhododendrons.  Ledum palustre became
Rhododendron tomentosum, while L. groenlandicum is now R. groenlandicum. If
you really want to grow this gruit herb, I did find two probable online
sources of it: first an English nursery specializing in alpine plants, at


They do ship internationally, and can certify the plants for import.  The
other possible source is the Rhododendron Species Foundation,


who have a limited number of plants available for sale cloned from wild
specimens they have located in the northwest US and western Canada.
> Guess I'll continue to stick to hops or no hops, but it would have been
> interesting to have tried a gruit in my 50% malted oats, unhopped Domesday
> Ale.

Please don't give up your project; I think it's definitely a worthwhile
goal, even if it takes you the better part of a growing season to assemble
the ingredients!

Hiram Berry

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