A pleasantly aromatic large shrub. Bayberry is an upright-rounded, dense shrub with semi-evergreen, dark green, leathery-like leaves and small waxy, persistent blue-gray fruit, which add winter interest and attract many species of birds. Native along the coasts of eastern U.S., can be used in a shrub border, in mass, or informal foundation planting.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
- North America
- Mixed border
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- Zone 5
- Zone 6
- Zone 7
- Acid soil
- Sandy soil
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- Showy fruit
- Mid winter
- Late winter
- Early spring
Size & form
A semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub, typically 5 to 6 feet high and wide; can reach 10 feet high.
Shape is upright to rounded with spreading branch habit; multi-stemmed, suckering and colony-forming
Tree & Plant Care
Performs well in full sun to partial shade, best in slightly acidic, moist soil.
Does well on dry, sandy, infertile soils once established.
Tolerant of wet soil and salt spray.
Requires male plant to pollinate for fruit set.
Shallow fibrous root system, slow to establish and will benefits with a layer of mulch to conserve moisture.
Supplemental water in dry periods.
Disease, pests, and problems
None serious. Chlorosis in high pH soils
Native geographic location and habitat
Native along coastal regions in Eastern United States
Attracts birds & butterflies
Many bird species are attracted to the fruits and for shelter.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate; semi-evergreen, leathery, oblong, 1 1/2 to 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
Dark green above, pale green beneath, resin dotted; very aromatic when crushed
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants); sometimes monoecious and appear before the new leaves.
Male flowers are small, yellow green catkins; female flowers are single with no sepals or petals. Requires both to set fruit.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Female plants produce a small, rounded chalky, blue-gray, waxy fruit up and down the stems; fruits persists into winter. Plant several to insure fruit set.
Wax from the fruit is used to make bayberry candles.
Silver Sprite™ (Myrica pensylvanica 'Morton'): A female clone with dense, compact, broad-oval habit and attractive gray-green foliage, reaching 4 to 5 feet high and 6 to 7 feet wide. A Chicagoland Grows ™ introduction.
Silver Sprite™ (Myrica pensylvanica 'Morton Male'): same superior habit and deep green foliage that Silver Sprite™ displays. This selection has a deep eggplant-purple color during the winter and is an excellent selection to use as a pollinator for Silver Sprite™ to get good fruit production. Zones 4-7.