Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bayberries - The Myrica Family

A genus of 35 species of shrubs or small trees that can be either deciduous or evergreen. The flowers are generally very small and not very noticable however many Bayberries have very attractive foliage and are commonly grown for that reason.
Not many birds eat the fruits of the Bayberries due to the indigestible waxy coating on the fruit however there are always exceptions. Tree Swallows and Yellow Rumped Warblers love the fruits and flock to and eat them in large quantities in late autumn. In fact without the Bayberry; the Yellow Rumped Warbler would not be able to winter as far north as it does. Talk about a plant that is important to wildlife.
Most Bayberries grow well in full to partial sun on any moist, acidic, well drained soil that is not extremely alkaline or is not exposed to prolonged drought. They should be planted during early spring with care taken not to disturb the roots. High phosphorous fertilizers speed up growth. The roots have nitrogen-fixing bacteria enabling them to grow on soils poor in nitrogen. The Bayberry is also a food plant to the Emperor Moth.
Propagation is generally from seed however it can also be reproduced from half hardened cuttings taken in summer and autumn or from layers. The seed should either sown immediately upon ripening then soaking in hot water or stratified for 3 months at 35 F.

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on June 5 2015 in Columbia, MD

Myrica californica ( California Wax Myrtle )
A fast growing tree reaching around 25 feet that is native to the west coast of North America ( from far southwest British Columbia to central California ). It is often multi trunked, crooked and leaning. Some records include: 2 years - 3 feet; 3 years - 6 feet; 10 years - 15 x 15 feet; 20 years - 23 x 17 feet; largest on record - 60 x 40 feet with a trunk diameter of 2.6 feet. It can be formally clipped as a tall hedge.
The finely-toothed, narrow-elliptic, laurel-like, evergreen leaves are up to 6 x 1 inches in size. The dense foliage is glossy deep green above and light green beneath.
The abundant, attractive fruits are waxy, light blue to purple drupes up to 0.3 inches in width.
They are borne in tight small clusters along the twigs, ripen in early fall and remain until winter.
The twigs are reddish-brown.
The bark is light gray and smooth with lighter blotches.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 and is drought and salt tolerant. It thrives on cool, moist coastlines and can be planted as a seaside windbreak.

* photo of unknown internet source

* photos taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* photo taken by http://www.nwplants.com

* excellent video found on Youtube

Myrica cerifera ( Southern Bayberry )
Also called Morella cerifera. A small tree reaching up to around 20 feet that is native to moist swampy woods and damp coastal areas of the southeast U.S. ( from eastern Texas and Arkansas to North Carolina and also further north along the east coast up to central New Jersey ). It is also often found in dry sandy woods in the wild though here it is usually far from reaching its maximum size. When pruned as a tree, the Southern Bayberry is typically round canopied with slender branches that are upright however often drooping as the tree ages. It is frequently also used for screening.
Some records include: 3 years - 5.6 feet; 5 years - 15 x 15 feet; largest on record - 60 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 2 feet.
The taper-based narrow leaves are up to 6 x 2 inches in size. The leaves are always widest above the middle. The very fragrant foliage is deep green above and yellow-green beneath. The leaves can be dried, crumbled and used for seasoning for meats and stews.
The small yellowish flowers are borne in small oblong axilliary catkins, up to 0.7 inches in length, during mid spring.
The flowers as well as the glaucous blue fruits are too small ( to 0.2 inch ) to be an ornamental feature however the thick wax that coats the fruits can be used in the making of candles. The fruits ripen in September though often persist through the winter.
The branches are reddish.
The bark is thin, smooth and whitish-gray.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 and is very drought tolerant as well as tolerant of heat, salt and deer thus making it highly recommended for coastal landscaped in the eastern U.S. from New Jersey and south. The northern limit of its cultivated range is Rhode Island for the hardiest clones. It thrives in sun or partial shade and prefers a soil PH from 5.5 to 7 and climates with hot summers. Pruning is not required however these trees are often pruned to expose the interesting trunk and give them a "natural bonsai-like" appearance. Aging and spindly plants can be cut back to near ground during early spring for renovation.

* photos taken on 4th of July in Washington, D.C.

* photos taken on Aug 20 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Mar 7 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD
* photo taken on Aug 3 2014 @ National Zoo, Washington, DC

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photo of unknown internet source

* historical archive photos

'Don's Dwarf'
A fast growing but miniature, Boxwood-like form, reaching up to 6 x 6 ( rarely over 4 ) feet, with deep green foliage and blue-gray berries. It makes a great hedge and foundation plant!

* photo taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014


* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

Compact and dense in habit, reaching up to 8 x 8 feet. Makes a great hedge of screen.

Fast growing, fully evergreen and hardier north to zone 5. There is no winter burn to as low as -4 F. Known to reach as much as 5 x 5 feet in the first year after planting, with an eventual maximum size of 20 feet or more.

* photos taken on Aug 25 2013 @ University of Maryland, College Park

var pumila
A moderate growing, low growing form, reaching a maximum height of 6 ( rarely over 3 ) feet. Makes a great low hedge. It can also be used as groundcover on sand dune areas as it can spread by underground runners. Its natural range is similar to that of M. cerifera; however it is not naturally found north of Delaware.
The leaves are half the size of regular Myrica cerifera.

'Robbie Green'
The semi-evergreen foliage is red at first turning to deep green.
Exceptionally hardy, north to zone 6.

* photos taken on 4th of July in Washington, D.C.

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

Semi-dwarf, forming an attractive rounded shrub up to 6 x 6 feet.
The foliage is golden-yellow at first, later maturing to lime green.

A clone produced by Sunshine Nursery in Clinton, OK that was originally found in the wild in Le Flore County, OK by Logan Calhoun. It has superior leaf retention in cold weather but is otherwise similar to the species.
Hardy zones 6 to 8 ( tolerating -16 F with no damage and may be slightly even hardier ).

Myrica esculenta
A large evergreen tree native to the Himalayas reaching up to a maximum size of 50 feet in height with a trunk diameter up to 3 feet.
The untoothed leaves, up to 7 x 2 inches in size, are deep glossy green.
The edible fruits, up to 0.2 inches wide, are reddish purple ripening deep purple to black. The bark is light brown.

Myrica faya
A fast growing, evergreen tree native to the Canary and Azores Islands that reaches up to 40 feet or very rarely as much as 66 feet with a trunk up to a 2.5 feet in diameter. It has naturalized in Hawaii where it is considered an invasive weed. It has also naturalized from central to southern Portugal. It is moderately long-lived, up to 125 years.
The smooth-edged leaves, up to 4.3 x 1 inches in size, are glossy deep green.
The edible fruits ripen purple to black.
Hardy zones 9 to 10 in warm temperate to subtropical climates.

* photo of unknown internet source

Myrica gale ( Sweet Gale )
A moderate growing, deciduous small shrub native to cold and temperate climates from Europe to Japan and in North America ( from central Alaska to northern Yukon to southern Nunuvat to far northern Ontario to most of Quebec, all of Labrador and Newfoundland; south to coastal Oregon to Edmonton, Alberta to central Saskatchewan to central Minnesota to Washtenaw Co, Michigan to Grand Bend, Ontario to Hamilton, Ontario to northern New jersey ). It is endangered in Oregon and Pennsylvania. In the wild it typically reaches around 3 feet and forms thickets on flood prone soils and swamps. Some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 2 feet; largest on record - 8 x 8 feet.
The alternately-arranged, toothed, obobovate leaves, up to 3 x 0.6 inches in size, are glossy deep green above, paler beneath. The leaves can be dried, crumbled and used for seasoning for meats and stews. They can also be used to make tea.
The yellow fruits are borne in massed spikes.
Hardy zones 1 to 6 and is tolerant of salt, swampy conditions and flooding.
Prefers soil PH from 5 to 8. It is not typically bothered by pests or disease.

* photos taken on July 14 2016 in Tobermory, ON

* photo of unknown internet source

Myrica hartwegii ( Sierra Sweet Gale )
Very similar to Myrica gale but native to the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and is more heat tolerant. Very rare.
The aromatic leaves are similar to Myrica gale but are larger, up to 4 x 1.3 inches, and gray-green. The foliage is very attractive.
Hardy zones 6 to 7 in full sun to partial shade.

Myrica inodora ( Scentless Bayberry )
A very beautiful, spreading, moderate growing, moderately long lived, evergreen, rounded, large shrub or small tree reaching up to 20 feet that is native to the Gulf Coast region ( from Louisiana to southwest Georgia ). In the wild it is usually found on wet soils whether bogs, swamps, ponds or the wetter parts of coastal pine forests. Some records include; 20 years - 23 feet; largest on record - 30 x 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 1 foot.
The obovate leaves up to 5 x 2 inches are much wider than those of other Bayberries. They have margins that curl under and are not fragrant. The leathery foliage is shiny lustrous deep green above and bright green beneath.
The waxy, glaucous blue fruits are sparser and much larger ( to 0.5 inches wide ) than those of most other Bayberries. They are are borne on stalks up to 0.5 inches and are either single or born in pairs.
The bark is whitish.
Hardy zones 8 to 9 though I would expect as in other likely glacial relics that it may actually be much more hardy to as far north as zone 6 though hasn't been fully tested. Rare in cultivation though has much potential. Flood tolerant but requires a soil PH from 4 to 7.5.

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora

Myrica pennsylvanica ( Northern Bayberry )
Also called Morella pensylvanica. A large, rapid growing, spreading, suckering shrub reaching up to 12 feet that is native to eastern North America ( from Gaspe and Newfoundland south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, inland to central Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Long Point and the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada ). It is endangered in Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. Some records include: first year from seed - 16 inches; fastest recorded growth rate - 4 feet; largest on record - 22 x 28 feet with a trunk diameter of 8 inches. It is usually found on sand dunes, marshes and acid swamps in the wild. Northern Bayberry makes a great hedge or screen.
The narrow leaves, up to 4 x 1 inch in size, are variable and can be either smooth or serrate-edged. The aromatic foliage can either be deciduous or semi-evergreen depending on climate. The deep green foliage sometimes turns to deep red during autumn. The leaves can be dried, crumbled and used for seasoning for meats and stews.
The fruits are small and light gray. Both male and female plants need to be growing in close proximity for berries to be produced. The wax from them can be used to make candles.
Hardy zones 2 to 7 in full sun to partial shade on just about any acidic, well drained soil. Very tolerant of heat, drought, salt and clay. It is among the most well adapted plants for use on the ocean front on the east coast of the U.S. Insect and disease pests do not normally occur. Older plants can be cut to near ground during late winter for renovation.

* photos taken July 4 2010 in Washington, D.C.

* photo taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario

* photos taken on June 3 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 10 2013 in Columbia, MD
* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photo taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

* photos taken on June 18 2016 in Annapolis, MD

* photo taken on Jun 20 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Feb 7 2016 in Columbia, MD

Hardier and more vigorous.

Myrica quercifolia
A very handsome, rare, vigorous, small, rounded, spreading, evergreen shrub, reaching up to 3.3 x 4 feet, that is native to South Africa.
The very attractive foliage is cut like Oak-leaves hence the name.
The foliage is bright green at first, later turning to deep green.
Hardy zones 8 to 9 ( tolerating 10 F with no damage ) in sun or shade. Tolerates pure sand. The roots can fix their own nitrogen as with other Bayberries.

Myrica rubra ( Red Bayberry )
Also called Japanese Wax Myrtle. The largest of the Myricas, this fast growing, medium-sized, evergreen tree native to Japan, can reach up to 82 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 4.5 feet ( though rarely reaches even 30 feet in the U.S ). Very long-lived, it is known to reach 1000 years of age. A very beautiful tree, it is hardly known in the U.S. other than a few landscape arboretums. It is sometimes used in its native range for conservation plantings on barren lands.
The narrowly-obovate leaves, up to 6 x 1.5 inches in size, are deep green above, whitish beneath. The foliage keep its lush green color all year.
The rounded fruits, up to an 1 inch in length, are red-purple and edible. The fruits can be used for juice or made into wine.
The smooth bark is gray.
Hardy zones 7 to 9. Easy to grow on most well drained, moist soils in sun or part shade. High phosphorous fertilizers are excellent for speeding up the growth on these.

* photos taken Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on March 28 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on June 10 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

Myrica serrata ( Lance-leafed Bayberry )
A large shrub native to damp areas and riverbanks in South Africa that reaches a maximum height of 20 feet.
The leathery, coarsely toothed lance-shaped leaves are up to 6 x 1 inches in size.
The fruits are very aromatic but dull colored.
Hardy zones 9 to 10

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