Myrica pensylvanica

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 4 Professionals
Common Name: bayberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Myricaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Yellowish green (male)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Wet Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, peaty or sandy, acidic soils, but tolerates a wide range of soils and growing conditions, including poor soils, wet soils, drought, high winds and salt spray (seashore or road salt conditions). Groupings of plants need a least one male plant to facilitate pollination of the female plants and subsequent fruit set. Shrubs tend to sucker, and may form sizable colonies in optimum growing conditions. Shrubs are semi-evergreen in southern end of growing range.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Myrica pensylvanica, commonly called bayberry, is a dense-branching deciduous shrub with a rounded habit which typically grows 6-10' tall. Native to North America where it is primarily found growing along the eastern coast (including seashore) from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Narrow, broadly oblanceolate, leathery, glossy, grayish-green leaves (to 4" long) are dotted with resin and aromatic when crushed. A mostly dioecious shrub (male and female flowers appear in separate catkins on separate plants). Neither catkin is showy, with only the male flowers displaying color (drab yellowish-green). Flowers on female plants, if pollinated, are followed by attractive clusters of tiny, grayish-white fruits in late summer which usually persist through the winter, but are not particularly showy. The fruits are covered with an aromatic, waxy substance which is used to make bayberry candles, soaps and sealing wax. Fruits are attractive to birds.

Genus name is derived from the Greek name myrike for tamarisk.

Specific epithet means of Pennsylvania.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Best in groups or massed. A versatile shrub that can be used in woodland gardens or shrub borders, as a screen or informal hedge, in wet or shady sites, or on a bank for erosion control. Salt tolerance makes it appropriate for locations near roads that are salted in winter. Interesting plant for grouping in a corner of a large herb garden.