Plant Details

Morella cerifera [= Myrica cerifera]

Wax Myrtle, Southern Bayberry, Candleberry, Tallow Shrub

Scientific Name:

Morella cerifera [= Myrica cerifera]

Common Name:

Wax Myrtle, Southern Bayberry, Candleberry, Tallow Shrub

Plant Family

Myricaceae (Bayberry Family)


NC Native



Size in Feet:

6 - 30


full sun to light shade

Soil Moisture:

hygric to mesic(*)

Bloom Time:


Bloom Area:


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.

State Rank:

No NC Rank Listed (*)

Global Rank:

No Global Rank listed (*)

State Status:

No NC Status Listed (*)

Federal Status:

No U.S. Status Listed (*)


"...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.


Paynter, 2011

Leaves and buds


Bark with sapsucker holes

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


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


Wilmington, January 2012




USDA PLANTS Database Record

Bird-Friendly Native Plants

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