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Bayberry Myrica caroliniensis

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Bayberry:

Previously known as:

  • Myrica heterophylla
Phonetic Spelling
mur-EYE-kuh kair-oh-lin-ee-EN-sis
Description

Bayberry is a native evergreen shrub or small tree in the Myricaceae (myrtle) family found growing in the coastal plain regions of North America.

It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 9 feet wide with dark green leaves. Leaves are wider than on M. cerifera and not as fragrant. The bark is thin, smooth, and gray-brown. In spring, small male and female flowers appaer on separate shrubs.   Waxy round bluish-white fruits that mature on female plants in clusters on short stalks. Propagate by seed from the female plants or allow the rhizomatous stems form colonies. 

This woody understory shrub performs well in the elusive dry shade as well as wetland conditions and makes an excellent addition to a wildlife garden as it provides food and cover for birds along with being a butterfly host plant.  Prune it into a small tree and use near a patio or pond planting or in shrub form use it as a screen or hedge plant.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#deciduous#small tree#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native shrub#cover plant#low maintenance#wetlands#showy fruits#food source wildlife#NC native#screening#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#larval host plant#food source fall#flowers early summer#white fruits#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#understory shrub#fruits early fall#dry shade#fruits late summer#privacy screen
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#deciduous#small tree#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native shrub#cover plant#low maintenance#wetlands#showy fruits#food source wildlife#NC native#screening#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#larval host plant#food source fall#flowers early summer#white fruits#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#understory shrub#fruits early fall#dry shade#fruits late summer#privacy screen
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Myrica
    Species:
    caroliniensis
    Family:
    Myricaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The waxy coating on the fruits has been used in candle making.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Pennsylvania to Eastern Texas
    Distribution:
    Primarily in coastal plains of SE US
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides excellent winter and extreme weather coverage. It is a host plant for the Red-banded Hairstreak butterfly. Its fruits are eaten by birds, especially yellow-rumped warblers (which are very efficient at digesting the waxy fruits), in the fall and winter.
    Edibility:
    Leaves can be used like bay leaves to flavor soups, stews, etc.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 9 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Small green to blue-white to grey dry waxy globose fruit that does not split open. Fruits are on female plants only and appear from late summer to early fall.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Small male and female slim cylindrical flowers appear late spring to early summer.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Waxy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Waxy, leathery, simple alternate dark green leaves with toothed margins. Blades are 1-3 inches long and 1/4- 1 inch wide and have resinous glands on the underside.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    White
    Bark Description:
    Thin, smooth and white to gray/brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Scales:
    Enclosed in more than 2 scales
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Three or more scales overlap like shingles, hairy stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Patio
    Pond
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Wet Soil