Wax Myrtle/Bayberry

Scientific name: Myrica cerifera
Abundance: plentiful
What: leaves
How: seasoning herb
Where: woods, landscapes
When: leaves are present all year, though they are most aromatic in late winter/early spring.
Nutritional Value: flavonoids/anitoxidants
Other uses: The small blue berries have a wax coating which can be used to make bayberry candles.

Medicinal Summary:
Root Bark - soothes inflamed skin; soothes gastrointestinal and urinary tract inflammation; diuretic to flush kidney stones; soothes sore throat (poultice, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are alternate along the stems.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are simple, elliptical to lanceolate.

Leaf Venation: The venation is pinnate.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is typically entire, but it can be slightly serrated.

Leaf Color: The leaves are glossy green on the upper surface, while the underside may have a silvery-white or grayish color.

Flower Structure: Wax Myrtle produces small, inconspicuous flowers in catkin-like structures. The flowers are unisexual, meaning individual plants are either male or female.

Flower Color: The flowers are yellow-green.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, waxy berry-like drupe. They grow in tight clusters along the branches of female plants.

Seed: The seeds are contained within the waxy drupe and are typically small and hard.

Bark: The bark is generally smooth and grayish-brown.

Hairs: No hairs.

Height: Wax Myrtle can vary in height but typically grows as a large shrub or small tree, reaching heights of 10 to 20 feet.

Wax myrtle/Bayberry berries

Wax myrtle/Bayberry leaves

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Allow leaves to dry or force-dry the leaves in an oven, then crumble into food. These are one of the key seasoning for Cajun seafood boils. I like to use it as a replacement for Italian season to make a delicious "Cajun" lasagna.

Bayberry candles are made from the wax found on the outside of the small, blue berries. Boil the berries in some water and collect the wax that floats to the surface. This wax is brittle and doesn't mold well. Combine the bayberry wax with beeswax or other soft wax for better results. Yes, I know bayberry candles are a key component of pagan money spells. No, I don't sell bayberry candles.

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