Myrica californica

Pacific wax myrtle

Habit: densely branched, multi-stemmed shrub but when protected it forms into a small tree with a narrow rounded crown. The gray to brown bark is smooth and thick, leathery evergreen leaves are elongated with serrated margins often having resin dots. The sticky leaves give off a spicy aroma when crushed or on a warm day. Male flowers are tiny yellowish green catkins, female flowers are tiny reddish green flowers both forming out of the leaf axils. The fruit is a single seeded, wrinkled berry in small tight clusters that are coated with a waxy white covering, turning from red to black, showier than the flowers. Blooms from April through July.

Ecology: found growing on coastal dunes, moist slopes, streambanks, and canyons below 500 ft (150m) from British Columbia through California along the Pacific Coast.

Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade in moist to wet well-drained soil. Pacific wax myrtle tolerates coastal conditions and can be drought tolerant.

Makes an excellent evergreen hedge or tree strip for windbreaks. Berries attract several varieties of birds.

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Type: Evergreen Shrub/Tree
Height: 6-30 ft (2-10 m)
Width: 10-20 ft (3-7 m)
USDA Zones: 7-9
Map courtesy of USDA-NRCS Plants Database.