Wax myrtle or Bayberry : Myrica cerifera


Uses :

Used in landscaping especially as an enclosure or screen. It is fast growing and responds well to pruning.

In nature it provides habitat for birds and the waxy fruits provide high energy food for birds in the winter.
Wax myrtle flowers, Photo by David Byres Because of the odoriferous compounds, wax myrtle has been used to repel insects including fleas and it is said that in the past it was commonly planted near homes to deter fleas.

A sprig of the plant in closets or cupboard drawers is said to keep cock roaches out.

There are records from 1699 that wax myrtle was cultivated as a medicinal plant and the leaves, bark and fruit were processed for medicinal compounds.
Notes :

The leaves and fruits smell like bayberry when crushed. This plant is a relative of the bayberry plant used for making candles in New England. This plant houses nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots and its nitrogen fixing capability is said to exceed that of legumes.

Most manuals and keys give the scientific name of wax myrtle as Myrica cerifera.

Seeds. Photo by David Byres