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Morella pensylvanica (Northern bayberry)
Vick, Albert F. W.

Morella pensylvanica

Morella pensylvanica (Mirb.) Kartesz

Northern Bayberry, Candleberry

Myricaceae (Bayberry Family)

Synonym(s): Myrica pensylvanica

USDA Symbol: MOPE6

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

A spreading, much-branched shrub, usually 3-12 ft. tall. Glossy, fragrant gray-green, egg-shaped leaves remain on the plant in the southern part of its range, or turn tan-colored and persist into winter farther north. Green catkins appear before leaves. Clusters of small, round, hard, white berries remain on the female plant all winter.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall in ideal conditions, usually shorter.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Bluish white.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: CT , DC , DE , MA , MD , ME , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , VA , VT
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Along the coast from Nova Scotia to VA, inland to Ohio
Native Habitat: Ledges, wood borders; thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand
Conditions Comments: Bayberry tolerates salt spray and a wide variety of wet to dry, hot to cold growing conditions. Be sure to obtain plants similar to climatic condition in your garden. Both male and female plants are necessary for berries. From NJ to LA, another coastal bayberry occurs, M. heterophylla. It is similar with smaller fruits.


Use Wildlife: Eaten by many winter birds.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow seed outdoors in the fall or stratify. Semi-hardwood cuttings root moderately will with hormone treatment.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds in mid to late fall.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
December 07, 2009
I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall an...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 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 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Morella pensylvanica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Morella pensylvanica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Morella pensylvanica


Record Modified: 2023-04-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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