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Morella californica

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 Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: 6-30 feet tall, 10-20 feet wide.
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Purple berries.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


Canada: BC
Native Distribution: Coastal areas from c. CA to WA & Vancouver I., B.C.
Native Habitat: Canyons & moist slopes below 500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water 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.


Use 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)

Banded Hairstreak
(Satyrium calanus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Red-banded Hairstreak
(Calycopis cecrops)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: California wax myrtle can be increased by seeds, cuttings, or by layering.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


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 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-12-19
Research By: TWC Staff

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