Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Myrica californica - Bayberry

Family: Myricaceae (Bayberry family) [E-flora]
Other Names: Californian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California Barberry [E-flora]

This is a blue-listed taxon in BC
This species is found in a single locale in BC. [E-flora]

"Myrica californica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft 1in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. It can fix Nitrogen.[PFAF]
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure." [PFAF]

"General: Shrub or small tree, 2-6 m tall; stems spreading, hairy and finely wax-dotted when young, glabrous at maturity." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Alternate, evergreen, oblanceolate, 5-8 cm long, entire to coarsely toothed, glabrous above, finely black-dotted and hairy below, usually sharp-pointed, aromatic." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: Inflorescence of male and female flowers in spikes on the same plant; male spikes 5 mm long, the male flowers with 3-12 stamens, the filaments more or less fused, often bracteate, exceeding the subtending bract; female spikes 1-2 cm long, the main bract larger than the 2 subtending bracteoles." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Nutlets, winged, 4-8 mm long, round, strongly warty and waxy."[IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Mesic to moist shoreline thickets, beaches, clearings and roadsides in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC, known only from the Tofino-Ucluelet area; S to CA." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

Species Mentioned: M. gale[Berries], M. californica [Berries], and Sierra bay (M. hartwegi) [Berries]


Edible Uses


Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"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]. Plants can be cut back to the ground in severe winters in many parts of Britain[1, 11], but they are well suited to the milder parts of the country[11, 59] where they are fast-growing and produce fruit within 5 years from seed[K]. They succeed and fruit well on a south facing wall at Kew[K]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. The fruit is covered with a deposit of wax that has a balsamic odour[245]. 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]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms." [PFAF]

"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 them on in the 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]." [PFAF]


Page last modified on Sunday, January 2, 2022 1:53 AM