Southern Bayberry
(Common Wax Myrtle - Candleberry)
Myrica cerifera
Myricaceae (Wax Myrtle) Family

Plant is a shrub or small tree with aromatic evergreen leaves. Its preferred habitat is hammocks, pin elands, marshes, and moist thickets. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaves are evergreen, 2 to 3.5 inches long and 3/4 inches wide. Those toward the end of twigs are often smaller. Leaf form is reverse lance-like, coarsely saw-toothed beyond the middle; slightly thickened and stiff; aromatic when crushed; short-stalked. The color is shiny yellow-green with tiny dark brown gland-dots and hairy beneath.

The flowers are small; yellow-green; in narrowly cylindrical clusters that measure about 1/4 inch long at the base of leaves. Male and female flowers are on separate trees. Flowers occur in early spring.

Fruit is a 1-seeded drupe, warty;; light green, covered with bluish-white wax. The fruit matures in autumn.

Wax myrtle is one of a very few Puerto Rican trees that are native to the United States north of Florida. This popular evergreen ornamental is used as a source of honey. Colonists separated the fruit's waxy covering in boiling water to make fragrant-burning candles, a custom still followed in some countries.

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