Morella cerifera (L.) Small

Bayberry, Candleberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Waxmyrtle




Family: Myricaceae

Genus: Morella

Category: Shrub - Evergreen

Zones: 7b to 11

Size: To 20' tall and wide

Growth Rate: Fast

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade


Shrub or small tree, usually multi-trunked. Narrow leaves, alternate, simple, glossy olive green color. When crushed they have a spicy fragrance. Flowers are not showy but fruit is grey and waxy, like candle wax, hence the name. Rounded to irregular form. Good screen plant. Can be severely pruned. Deer resistant. Tolerates pool soils because it fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Tolerates salt spray.



Native to the eastern US from Florida to New Jersey. Introduced in 1669 to England.

Published in Fl. S.E. U.S. 337, 1329 in 1903.

Basionym is Myrica cerifera L. - Linnaeus cites Catesby's Natural History Volume 1 Plate 69.

Synonym: Cerothamnus ceriferus (L.) Small.


My Experience: 

I purchased 3 7-gallon plants from Lowes for the NC house to act as a fast growing screen. I had them limbed up so that they would screen the windows but let air and light below. They grew rapidly and performed just as intended. They have self-seeded all over however and the seedlings are difficult to pull up. I also had 2 3-gallon plants that for use as a screen on the other side of the property. One of these grew and then struggled, I believe for lack of water. I cut it way back and it rebounded and is now growing strongly.

When I sprayed the Crape Myrtles to get rid of Japanese Beetles, they all moved directly to the Wax Myrtles.

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner