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Plant Details

Morella cerifera [= Myrica cerifera]

Wax Myrtle, Southern Bayberry, Candleberry, Tallow Shrub

Scientific Name:

Morella cerifera [= Myrica cerifera]

Genus:

Morella

Species Epithet:

cerifera

Common Name:

Wax Myrtle, Southern Bayberry, Candleberry, Tallow Shrub

Plant Type

Shrub

Life Cycle

Perennial

Plant Family

Myricaceae (Bayberry Family)

Native/Alien:

NC Native

Size:

12-36 ft.

Bloom Color(s):

Green

Light:

Sun - 6 or more hours of sun per day, Part Shade - 2 to 6 hours of sun per day

Soil Moisture:

Moist, Wet

Bloom Time:

April

Growing Area:

Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain

Habitat Description:

“Interdune swales (where often dominant), pocosins, brackish marshes, other wet to moist habitats, now also widely planted (including in the Piedmont) as an ornamental or landscaping shrub” (Weakley 2015). Common in NC Coastal Plain; a rare escape from cultivation in the Mountains and Piedmont.

Leaf Arrangement:

Alternate

Leaf Retention:

Evergreen

Leaf Type:

Leaves veined, not needle-like or scale-like

Leaf Form:

Simple

Life Cycle:

Perennial

Wildlife Value:

Important for Wildlife

Landscape Value:

Recommended and Available

Notes:

"...This popular evergreen ornamental is used for screens, hedges, landscaping, wetland gardens, habitat restoration, and as a source of honey. Essentially a shrub, it serves as an excellent screen plant, with both standard and dwarf varieties available. Because there are separate male and female plants, if you want berries you must have male plants close enough to the berry-producing female plants for pollination to occur. The leaves are aromatic, with an appealing, piquant fragrance when crushed. Colonists separated the fruits waxy covering in boiling water to make fragrant-burning candles, a custom still followed in some countries." Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Wax myrtle is commonly a large shrub to small tree. Very attractive to birds in winter.

Common on the coast in wet to moist interdune swales, pocosins, and brackish marshes. It persists or naturalizes in suburban woods (Weakley) and is widely used for landscaping.

image

Paynter, 2011

Leaves and buds

image

Bark with sapsucker holes

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers drill holes in the bark in winter and feed off the sap.

image

Male (R) and female (L) twigs, showing fruits and staminate catkins still present in winter.

image

Wilmington, January 2012

Fruit

image

Links:

USDA PLANTS Database Record


Bird-Friendly Native Plants



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