Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon:
- Broadleaf evergreen shrub, 10-12(30) ft [3-3.7(9) m], many upright stems, loose. Leaves simple, alternate, clean looking, 5-11 cm long, narrow, lanceolate, dark green, light green below, dotted with black or yellow glands, regularly toothed. Flowers bloom in spring, small, and in male (staminate) and female (pistillate) catkin-like clusters, may also be bisexual; male and female clusters may be on the same or separate plants, often yellow-green and inconspicuous but may be reddish under good sun exposure. Fruits are warty, spherical, 6 mm diameter, green then dark purple to black, usually with a white waxy coating, evident in fall.
- Sun, or partial shade. Withstands damp locations and summer drought. It has root nodules containing nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, allowing it to grow in relatively poor soils. Used as a screen, can be pruned to keep it in shape. Considered one of the best looking native western shrubs for the garden.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 7 Native to the Pacific Coast and coastal valleys from Washington to southern California. Not to be confused with the similar M. gale (bog-myrtle, sweet-gale), which is a smaller (to 2 m) deciduous shrub, the lower side of its leaves are dotted with yellow waxy glands and its fruit is rather smooth.
- In contrast to Morella pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry), the leaves of Morella californica are not aromatic when crushed. In addition, the berries of M. californica have a low content of aromatic wax and thus are not used to make the scented candles associated with Northern Bayberry.
- Taxonomy: Myrica californica to Morella californica: A recent treatment of the family Myricaceae has Myrica californica renamed as Morella californica (Morella californica (Cham. & Schltdl.) Wilbur). Now the genus Morella has about 50 species ranging from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Only few plants, such as Myrica gale, the bog-myrtle or sweet-gale of Europe and northeastern North America and Myrica hartwegii, the California native Sierra Myrtle remain in the genus Myrica (San Marcos Growers). As of 2023 the taxonomic treatment is not fully resolved. The ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) and the USDA Plant List has Morella californica as the accepted name, whereas the WFO Plant List (https://wfoplantlist.org/plant-list/) has Morella californica as synonym of Myrica californica.
- Myrica: Greek name for Tamarix, californica: of California.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: north of Shepard Hall.
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