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Myrica californica - Cham.

Common Name Californian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California Barberry
Family Myricaceae
USDA hardiness 7-11
Known Hazards Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, there is a report for some members of this genus that some of the constituents of the wax might be carcinogenic[222].
Habitats Ocean sand dunes and moist hill sides near the coast[60], usually on acid soils[1] and tolerating poorly drained soils[229].
Range South-western N. America - Washington to California.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Myrica californica Californian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California  Barberry


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Murderbike
Myrica californica Californian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California  Barberry
www.flickr.com/photos/23326361@N04

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Vase.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
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 all year, in flower in May, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
It can fix Nitrogen.
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.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[105, 177]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter with a large seed[200]. There is very little edible flesh and the flavour of this is poor[200, K].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Stomachic.

The bark and root bark is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and infections[238].

Other Uses

Dye;  Wax;  Wood.

A wax covering on the fruit is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles[106, 245]. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather[213]. They are slightly aromatic and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles[213]. The wax is also used in making soaps[213]. To date (07/12/95) plants growing on our Cornish trial grounds have fruited freely but have not produced much wax. They produced somewhat more after the hot summer of 1995, but there was still not enough to make extraction worthwhile[K]. A grey-brown and a maroon-purple dye are obtained from the fresh or dried berries[168]. Wood - heavy, very hard, strong, brittle, close grained[82].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Hedge, Screen, Seashore, Specimen. 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.

Propagation

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].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Australia, Canada, North America, USA,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Comptonia peregrinaSweet Fern33
Comptonia peregrina asplenifoliaSweet Fern33
Melaleuca leucadendraPaperbark, Weeping Paperbark24
Myrica ceriferaWax Myrtle - Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle33
Myrica galeBog Myrtle, Sweetgale22
Myrica heterophyllaBayberry32
Myrica nagiBox Myrtle23
Myrica pennsylvanicaNorthern Bayberry31
Myrica rubraChinese Bayberry22
Myricaria elegans 01
Myricaria germanica 01
Myricaria squamosa 02

 

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Expert comment

Author

Cham.

Botanical References

1160200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Jim Hicks   Wed May 19 18:01:11 2004

What is an ocean myrtle? In Brunswick, GA directly adjacent to the easternmost blvd and facing the Marshes of Glynn is a tree dad called an ocean myrtle. It has leaves like the California Wax Myrtle and has strong spreading limbs and can be climbed in by a small child. The underside of the leaves, as I remember, have little bumps. I used to think those bumps were where aphids lived. The odor of the tree was sweet just standing near it. It looked bent away from the Atlantic ocean direction and was tousled and windswept permanently. I have no idea where he got it. He planted it around 1939./ I live now 287 miles from the old home place and can't get there for more details.

Joel   Tue Aug 25 2009

I've heard the Bayberry is a close relative, and might be more common near that Georgia home in the previous comment. It could be that there were scale insects living on the tree.

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