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MYRICA pensylvanica

Image of Myrica pensylvanica

Jessie Keith

Family

Myricaceae

Botanical Name

MYRICA pensylvanica

Plant Common Name

Bayberry

General Description

Renowned as the source of bayberry wax, this aromatic medium-sized deciduous shrub from eastern North America makes a serviceable and attractive garden subject. Handsome, shiny, oval leaves are densely borne on rounded, suckering plants, and often remain attached well into winter. Male plants bear interesting gray-green catkins in spring; female plants have inconspicuous flowers that give rise to terminal clusters of small waxy gray berries which contain the fragrant waxy tallow used in bayberry candles. Ripening in fall and persisting into winter, the fruits are a favorite food of yellow-rumped warblers and other birds. Bayberry roots have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which allows this plant to prosper in difficult sites such as the sand dunes, pine barrens, and wetlands to which it is native.

Plant bayberry in well-drained, infertile or moderately fertile soil in sun or light shade. Its neat, dense habit, suckering roots, and tolerance of poor soils and salt make it ideal for hedging and screening, for grouping on embankments and other erosion-prone areas, and for planting near roads and driveways. It also makes a nice specimen for informal borders and herb gardens. Sold plants are usually not identified by sex; purchase several to increase the odds of obtaining both male and female plants. This shrub does poorly in hot climates.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 6

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    North America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Green

  • Fruit Color

    Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Foundation, Groundcover, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No