Wax Myrtle

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Project Description

Wax Myrtle

Morella cerifera


Range/Geographical Distribution: From New Jersey south to Texas and west to Oklahoma.  Also found throughout the Bahamas, Mexico, and Central America.

Habitat: Pinelands, swampy areas, and other moist areas. 

Description: An evergreen, multi-stemmed shrub with olive green foliage and gray bark.

Size: Can reach 40 feet in height.

Breeding: Dioecious (separate male and female plants), flowers from February to June, and is wind pollinated.  Mature drupes (fruits) are blue/gray and covered in wax.

Predators/Ecological Importance: Offers food and cover for many birds and small animals.

Conservation Status: No legal status.

Interesting Facts: Berries from the female plant were used to make candle wax during colonial times.  Wax myrtle is also highly flammable.  The fragrant leaves can be crushed and used as bay leaves for cooking. 

On the Coast: Wax myrtle is common on Georgia’s barrier islands and all along the coast.  It is a favorite food for the painted bunting, an endangered bird.

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