We need to raise £10,000 from user donations to get our finances in balance. More >>>

Follow Us:


Myrica cerifera - L.

Common Name Wax Myrtle - Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle
Family Myricaceae
USDA hardiness 7-11
Known Hazards There is a report that some of the constituents of the wax are carcinogenic[222]. Vomiting in large doses. Constituent myricadiol may cause salt retention and potassium excretion [301]. Avoid if high blood pressure or kidney disease. Tannin constituents may cause gastrointestinal irritation and liver damage [301].
Habitats Thickets on sandy soil near swamps and marshes[43], also on dry arid hills in which situation it is often only a few centimetres tall[82].
Range South-eastern N. America. Possibly naturalized in S. England[50].
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Myrica cerifera Wax Myrtle - Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle

Myrica cerifera Wax Myrtle - Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle


Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Myrica cerifera L. is a synonym of Morella cerifera (L.) Small. Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Vase.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Myrica cerifera is an evergreen Shrub growing to 9 m (29ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen in 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. 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.


Cerothamnus arborescens, Cerothamnus cerifer, Morella cerifera, Myrica mexicana, Myrica pumila.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Fruit - raw or cooked[105, 177, 183]. The fruit is about 3mm in diameter with a large seed[200]. There is very little edible flesh and the quality is poor[K]. Leaves and berries are used as a food flavouring[62, 105, 177]. They make an aromatic, attractive and agreeable substitute for bay leaves, and can be used in flavouring soups, stews etc[183]. The dried leaves are brewed into a robust tea[183].

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.

Antibacterial;  Astringent;  Emetic;  Narcotic;  Sternutatory;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

Wax myrtle is a popular herbal remedy in North America where it is employed to increase the circulation, stimulate perspiration and keep bacterial infections in check[254]. The plant should not be used during pregnancy[254]. The root bark is antibacterial, astringent, emetic (in large doses), sternutatory, stimulant and tonic[4, 21, 46, 165, 213, 254]. It is harvested in the autumn, thoroughly dried then powdered and kept in a dark place in an airtight container[4]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, jaundice, fevers, colds, influenza, catarrh, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge etc[4, 238, 254]. Externally, it is applied to indolent ulcers, sore throats, spongy gums, sores, itching skin conditions, dandruff etc[4, 238, 254]. The wax is astringent and slightly narcotic[4]. It is regarded as a sure cure for dysentery and is also used to treat internal ulcers[4]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers and externally as a wash for itchy skin[222].

Other Uses

Dye;  Hedge;  Hedge;  Wax;  Wood.

A wax covering on the fruit contains palmitic acid and 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, sealing wax etc[1, 4, 6, 11, 62, 95, 171, 245, 274]. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather[213]. They are slightly aromatic, with a pleasant balsamic odour[245], 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]. About 1 kilo of wax can be obtained from 4 kilos of berries[4]. A blue dye is obtained from the fruit[6]. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge[200], succeeding in windy sites[K]. Wood - light, soft, brittle, fine-grained[82, 227]. The wood weighs 35lb per cubic foot[227]. It is of no commercial value[229].

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Wax;  Management: Standard;  Wild-harvested and Sold.

Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control, 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 evergreen in areas with warmer winters than in Britain[227]. Some reports say that the plant is dioecious whilst others say it is monoecious. It is most likely that both forms exist[82, K]. A polymorphic species[11], there are some named forms. 'Myda' is a large-fruited female form of low growth[182]. The fruit is covered with a deposit of wax that has a balsamic odour[245]. The fruits can hang on the plant for several years[213]. Closely related to M. pensylvanica, with which it hybridizes[43]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. 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, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


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

Wax myrtle, Candle-berry,

Found In

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

Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Britain, Central America, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Europe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, North America, Puerto Rico, Tasmania, Turkey, USA, West Indies,

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 californicaCalifornian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California Barberry31
Myrica galeBog Myrtle, Sweetgale22
Myrica heterophyllaBayberry32
Myrica nagiBox Myrtle23
Myrica pennsylvanicaNorthern Bayberry31
Myrica rubraChinese Bayberry22
Myricaria elegans 01
Myricaria germanica 01
Myricaria squamosa 02


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

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

Readers comment

Rob   Tue Nov 25 2008

I live near a swamp and wax myrtles grow throughout. I don't know if it's just the cultivar that grows here, but the leaves and fruit taste rather bland. Would have to use a lot of them has a substitute for bay leaves.

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Myrica cerifera  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.