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Morella californica (Cham.) Wilbur
Pacific Wax Myrtle, California Wax Myrtle, Pacific Bayberry, California Bayberry
Myricaceae (Bayberry Family)
Synonym(s): Myrica californica
USDA Symbol: MOCA6
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
California Wax Myrtle is a tree-like, densely bushy evergreen shrub with glossy, dark-green, narrow leaves. The 10-25 ft., aromatic shrub has slender, ascending branches. Spring catkins are followed by brown-purple fruit.
Pacific Wax Myrtle is sometimes planted as an ornamental shrub for the showy berries and dense, shiny evergreen foliage. The fruit is eaten in small quantities by myrtle warblers and many other birds. The waxy covering of the fruit apparently is not used; colonists extracted the wax from related Eastern bayberries or Wax myrtles (Morella cerifera) in boiling water and made fragrant-burning candles.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: 6-30 feet tall, 10-20 feet wide.
Leaf: Dark Green
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
DistributionUSA: CA , OR , WA
Native Distribution: Coastal areas from c. CA to WA & Vancouver I., B.C.
Native Habitat: Canyons & moist slopes below 500 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, slightly acid sands or loams.
Conditions Comments: This shrub tolerates beach wind.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Good for hedges.
Use Wildlife: Attracts Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Wood Thrush (Audubon At Home).
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Red-banded Hairstreak
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Learn more at BAMONA
Red-banded Hairstreak |
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationDescription: California wax myrtle can be increased by seeds, cuttings, or by layering.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Morella californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Morella californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Morella californica
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-04-18
Research By: TWC Staff