What's a Bayberry Shrub?

Since Colonial times, wax surrounding the fruit of several shrubs from the Myrica genus has been boiled down to create fragrant bayberry candles. Though the deciduous bush generally referred to as bayberry (M. pensylvanica) rises around the East Coast just down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 7, at least three other bayberry, or wax myrtle, shrubs flourish in warmer climates. They are all evergreen, feature aromatic leaf and prosper in USDA zones 7 to 9.

Pacific Wax Myrtle

In windy oceanfront sites, the Pacific wax myrtle (M. californica) looks like a flattened mass of divisions. But from the wind, it’s a vertical tree or tree, reaching 10 to 30 feet in height. Adaptable to either sun or shade, the wax myrtle’s new growth comes in mild green, contrasting with the ripe leaf of darker green and a waxier texture. Assets of the tree contain dense, attractive, serrated foliage and purplish, wax-coated nutlets that lure birds. The tree requires ample water to encourage its rapid growth design and is sensitive to frost.

Southern Wax Myrtle

Generally smaller than the Pacific variety, the Southern wax myrtle (M. cerifera) seldom exceeds 12 feet high. It tends to create multiple trunks, in addition to clusters of bluish-gray berries that last through the winter. A handsome plant with olive-green foliage, the tree has eye-catching bark that ranges from grey to almost white on some specimens. While getting established, it requires constant moisture, but also in subsequent years it will tolerate either drought or flood conditions. An unusually adaptable plant, it even withstands confinement within urban areas.

Swamp Bayberry

With bigger leaves and a denser look than the Southern wax myrtle, the swamp bayberry (M. heterophylla) earns its name by growing in poorer soils, which range from sand to clay, especially where water accumulates. The fast-growing tree, indigenous to the Southeast, typically reaches 8 to 12 feet. Foliage is dark green, with 5-inch leaves that are fragrant when crushed. After the waxy fruit appears, it’s small, round and contains a white to grey colour.

Landscape Uses

Taller varieties, like the Pacific wax myrtle, make excellent displays when implanted in multiples. All types can get effective hedges, whether ripped or casual. Because of the odor from the leaves, a bayberry hedge along a walkway could be a particular delight. The California native Pacific wax myrtle functions nicely as a part of woodland groups that include oaks and redwoods. With its multiple stems, the Southern wax myrtle may be dressed as a specimen plant close to your home. All three tolerate very wet locations, so they could adapt to seacoast places.

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