Myrica californica (syn. Morella californica, apparently its new name) Myricaceae
Pacific Waxmyrtle, California Waxmyrtle
- Broadleaf evergreen shrub, 10-12(30) ft [3-3.7(9) m], many upright stems, loose. Leaves simple,
alternate, clean looking, 5-11 cm long, narrow, lanceolate, dark green, light green below, dotted with black
or yellow glands, regularly toothed. Flowers bloom in spring, small, and in male (staminate) and
female (pistillate) catkin-like clusters, may also be bisexual; male and female clusters may be on
the same or separate plants, often yellow-green and inconspicuous but may be reddish under good sun exposure.
Fruits are warty, spherical, 6 mm diameter, green then dark purple to black, usually with a white
waxy coating, evident in fall.
- Sun, or partial shade. Withstands damp locations and summer drought. Used as a
screen, can be pruned to keep it in shape. Considered one of the best looking native western
shrubs for the garden.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 7 Native to the Pacific Coast and coastal valleys from Washington to southern California. Not to be confused with the somewhat similar M. gale (Sweet-gale), which is a smaller (to 2 m) deciduous shrub, the lower side of its leaves are dotted with yellow waxy glands and its fruit is rather smooth.
- In contrast to Myrica pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry), the leaves of Myrica californica
are not aromatic when crushed. In addition, the berries of M. californica have a low
content of aromatic wax and thus are not used to make the scented candles associated with Northern Bayberry.
- Myrica: Greek name for Tamarix. californica: of California.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: north of Shepard Hall.