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Myrica heterophylla - Raf.
                 
Common Name Bayberry
Family Myricaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, there is a report for some members of this genus that some of the constituents of the wax might be carcinogenic[222].
Habitats Bogs, stream, pond and lake margins, moist regions of mixed deciduous forests, pine flatlands near pitcher-plant bogs, swamps from sea level to 250 metres[270].
Range Southeastern N. America - New Jersey to Florida, west to Louisiana.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Myrica heterophylla Bayberry


Jeff McMillian @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Myrica heterophylla Bayberry
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 1
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Myrica heterophylla is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Synonyms

Habitats
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K]. Fruit - raw or cooked[105, 177, 183]. The fruit is about 2 - 4mm in diameter with a single large seed[200]. There is very little edible flesh and this is of poor quality[K]. Leaves and berries are used as a food flavouring[62, 105, 177]. An attractive and agreeable substitute for bay leaves, used in flavouring soups, stews etc[183]. The dried leaves are brewed into a robust tea[183].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent;  Emetic;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K]. The root bark is astringent, emetic (in large doses), sternutatory, stimulant and tonic[4, 21, 46, 165, 213]. It is harvested in the autumn, thoroughly dried then powdered and kept in a dark place in an airtight container[4]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, jaundice, fevers, colds, influenza, catarrh, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge etc[4, 238]. Externally, it is applied to indolent ulcers, sore throats, sores, itching skin conditions, dandruff etc[4, 238]. The wax is astringent and slightly narcotic[4]. It is regarded as a sure cure for dysentery and is also used to treat internal ulcers[4]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers and externally as a wash for itchy skin[222].
Other Uses
Dye;  Hedge;  Hedge;  Wax;  Wood.

The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K]. A wax covering on the fruit is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles, sealing wax etc[1, 4, 6, 11, 62, 95, 171, 245]. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather[213]. They are slightly aromatic, with a pleasant balsamic odour[245], and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles[213]. The wax is also used in making soaps[213]. About 1 kilo of wax can be obtained from 4 kilos of berries[4]. A blue dye is obtained from the fruit[6]. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge[200], succeeding in windy sites[K]. Wood - light, soft, brittle, fine-grained[82, 227]. The wood weighs 35lb per cubic foot[227]. It is of no commercial value[229].
Cultivation details
Prefers a moist soil[200]. Grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade[200]. Thrives in any ordinary garden soil according to one report[11] whilst another says that it thrives in an acid soil[182]. Prefers a lime-free loamy or peaty soil[1]. Succeeds in dry and maritime climates[200]. Closely related to M. pensylvanica and M. cerifera[200]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Many species in this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
Propagation
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[78]. Stored seed germinates more freely if given a 3 month cold stratification and then sown in a cold frame[78]. Germination is usually good[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame for the first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up and overwinter in a cold frame then plant out in late spring or early summer. Fair to good percentage[78]. Layering in spring[200].
Other Names
Found In
North America, USA,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Comptonia peregrinaSweet Fern33
Comptonia peregrina asplenifoliaSweet Fern33
Melaleuca leucadendraPaperbark, Weeping Paperbark24
Myrica californicaCalifornian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California Barberry31
Myrica ceriferaWax Myrtle - Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle33
Myrica galeBog Myrtle, Sweetgale22
Myrica nagiBox Myrtle23
Myrica pennsylvanicaNorthern Bayberry31
Myrica rubraChinese Bayberry22
Myricaria elegans 01
Myricaria germanica 01
Myricaria squamosa 02
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Author
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Botanical References
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Subject : Myrica heterophylla  

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