Northern Bayberry´╗┐

Myrica pensylvanica (syn. Morella pensylvanica)


Northern bayberry has had many other common names, including waxberry, swamp candleberry, and candletree. As always, these names emphasize important facts. This costal shrub (sometimes a small tree) of northeastern North America produces wax-covered fruits that have been used for candle-making. It is actually southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera) that has been traditionally used more often, yet it is also possible to make candles with northern bayberry.

Bayberry flowers are unisexual, staminate and pistillate growing on separate plants. Fruits are produced only when both sexes grow close together. Bayberries can be found in various habitats ranging from coastal dunes, pine barrens, and pine-oak forests to wetland margins and stream banks. Bayberry belongs to myrtle family, whose members are known for their aromatic qualities. Young branchlets and leaf undersides are dotted with aromatic glands. Crush a leaf and enjoy the "smell of the family"! Another aromatic plant from this family growing along the trail is sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina).

See all photos for this species at salicicola.com


Staminate flowers, May 23


Wax-covered fruits, August 16


Bayberry in the dunes, Plymouth Long Beach


Bayberry shaped as a small tree, Wing Island, Brewster