Myrica californica
Common name: 
Pacific Waxmyrtle
California Waxmyrtle
mi-RI-ka kal-i-FORN-i-ka
Morella californica
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 somewhat similar M. gale (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 Myrica pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry), the leaves of Myrica 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 to Morella californica (Morella californica (Cham. & Schltdl.) Wilbur). The genus Morella has about 50 species ranging from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia while Myrica gale, the bog myrtle of Europe and northeastern North America and Myrica hartwegii, the California native Sierra Myrtle, are the only two plants that remain in the genus Myrica   (San Marcos Growers).  As of 2020 the taxonomic treatment is not fully resolved and Morella californica is considered a synonym of Myrica californica by The Plant List ( and not the accepted name.   Whereas the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) lists Morella californica as the accepted name and Myrica californica as not accepted and a synonym.
  • Myrica: Greek name for Tamarix.   californica: of California.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: north of Shepard Hall.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, several shrubs

    plant habit, several shrubs

  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • leaves


  • leaf underside with glands

    leaf underside with glands

  • leaves and stem, comparison

    leaves and stem, comparison

  • leaves and flowers, spring, in shade

    leaves and flowers, spring, in shade

  • leaves and flowers, spring, sun

    leaves and flowers, spring, sun

  • flower catkins and leaves, sun

    flower catkins and leaves, sun

  • female, male and bisexual flowers

    female, male and bisexual flowers

  • flower spikes, mostly female

    flower spikes, mostly female

  • developing fruit and leaves

    developing fruit and leaves

  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit

  • shoot, leaves and fruit

    shoot, leaves and fruit