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Toxic parts

Plants contain a narcotic toxin called Ledel. This toxin only causes problems if the leaves are cooked for a long period in a closed container[1].

Edible uses


A tea is made from the aromatic leaves[1][2]. Considered by some to be a better tea than that made from L. groenlandicum[2]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. It would be better to brew the tea in cold water by leaving it in a sunny place, or to make sure that it is brewed for a short time only in an open container.

The leaves are used as a flavouring, they are a bayleaf substitute[1].

The plant has been used as a hop substitute in making beer, though this has caused an unpleasant kind of drunkenness which is accompanied by a headache and dizziness[3].

Unknown part

Material uses

The leaves are hung up in the clothes cupboard in order to repel insects[4][1]. The branches are also placed among grain in order to keep mice away[4][1]. A strong decoction of the leaves is used to kill lice and insects[4][3]. The leaves contain tannin[4].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The leaves and young flowering shoots are astringent, diaphoretic, disinfectant, diuretic, laxative, pectoral, stomachic and tonic[4][1][5][6]. The plant is more strongly narcotic than L. groenlandicum[4] and should not be used without expert supervision[7]. A tea is taken internally in the treatment of asthma, coughs, colds, stomach aches, kidney ailments etc[4][5][6]. Externally, it is used as a wash for burns, ulcers, stings, infections etc[5][6]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole, dried and powdered, plant[3]. This is used in the treatment of stings, injuries and joint pains[3]. It is also used in the treatment of various chest complaint, asthma, menstrual pain etc[7].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - surface sow in a shady part of the greenhouse in February or March[8][9]. Another report says that the seed is best sown in the autumn as soon as it is ripe[10]. Germination is variable and can be quite slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the pots on in a shady frame for 18 months before planting them out into their permanent positions[8].

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Plant out in spring. Fair percentage[8]. Cuttings of mature wood, November/December in a frame[9]. Layering in the autumn. Takes 12 months[8].


Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Ledum palustre. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a lime-free loam or peaty soil[11][12]. Prefers a moist humus-rich acid soil in shade or semi-shade[13]. Plants flower more freely when grown in a sunny position. Plants grow better if they have certain fungal associations in the soil. The best way of providing this is to incorporate some soil from around well-growing established plants into the soil for the new plant[13].

Hardy to at least -15°c[13]. The leaves are very aromatic[14]. When crushed, they smell strongly of hops[3]. Plants benefit from removing the dead flowers before they set seed[10]. This prevents them putting too much energy into seed production at the expense of more flowers and leaves.

A good bee plant[4]. The flowers contain an oil that smells strongly of antiseptic[3].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Ledum palustre. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Ledum palustre.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Ledum palustre
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    1 x meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    2. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    3. ? Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan. London. ISBN 0-333-55581-3 (1990-00-00)
    4. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    7. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    8. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    11. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    13. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    14. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    15. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)