Content Detail

Bayberry is an upright, rounded, dense shrub with semi-evergreen, dark green, leathery leaves. It has small waxy, persistent blue-gray fruit, which add winter interest and attract many species of birds. It is a pleasantly aromatic large shrub. It is native along the coasts of the eastern United States. It can be used in a shrub border, in a mass planting, or informal foundation planting.

  • Family (English) Bayberry
  • Family (botanic) Myricaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Sandy soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest midwinter, late winter, early spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, Other
  • Shape or form Irregular, Round, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & form: 

A semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub, it is typically 5 to 6 feet high and wide, but can reach 10 feet high. Its shape is upright to rounded with a spreading branch habit. It is multi-stemmed, suckering, and colony-forming.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Bayberry is native along coastal regions in the eastern United States.

Attracts birds & butterflies: 

Many bird species are attracted to the fruits and use the shrub for shelter.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The leaves are alternate, semi-evergreen, leathery, oblong, 1 1/2 to 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. They are dark green above, pale green beneath and resin dotted. They are very aromatic when crushed.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Plants are dioecious (separate male and female plants), although sometimes monoecious. Flowers appear before the new leaves emerge. Male flowers are small, yellow-green catkins. The female flowers are single, with no sepals or petals. Both male and female plants are required 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. The fruit persists into winter. Plant several to insure fruit set. Wax from the fruit is used to make bayberry candles.

Plant care: 

Bayberry performs well in full sun to partial shade. It does best in slightly acidic, moist soil, but once established, it can do well on dry, sandy, infertile soils. It is tolerant of wet soil and  salt spray. It requires a male plant to pollinate for fruit set. With a shallow fibrous root system and being slow to establish, it will benefit from a layer of mulch to help conserve moisture. Supplemental water will be required in dry periods.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Bayberry has no serious pests, but may develop chlorosis in high pH soils.

Silver Sprite™ (Myrica pensylvanica ‘Morton’): 

A female clone with a dense, compact, broad-oval habit and attractive gray-green foliage. It reaches 4 to 5 feet high and 6 to 7 feet wide. A Chicagoland Grows ™ introduction.

Male Silver Sprite™ (Myrica pensylvanica ‘Morton Male’):

This has the 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. Good in Zones 4-7. A Chicagoland Grows™ introduction.


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