These North American native plants may not be spectacular, but they are tough and adaptable and have no serious pests. Excellent as informal screens, as foundation plantings, and in naturalized areas; M. cerifera is attractive enough to serve as a specimen tree. Good plants for coastal gardenstolerate wind, sandy soil, salt spray. Foliage is pleasantly aromatic, especially when bruised. Although neither of the two species described here is showy in flower, female plants bear great quantities of subtly attractive autumn fruit that is favored by birds. These plants are not usually browsed by deer. Formerly called Myrica.
M. cerifera. WAX MYRTLE. Evergreen shrub or small tree. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to southeastern U.S. Grows quickly to at least 1520 ft. tall and wide. Glossy, olive-green leaves are narrowly oval and pointed, to 312 in. long. Small, grayish white fruit, borne in dense clusters, is heavily coated with a wax valued in candle making. Tolerates dry or wet soil, but best with moderate to regular water, especially when newly planted. 'Luray' is a compact selection reaching just 4 ft. tall and wide. M. c. pumila is a dwarf, suckering form that grows to only 3 ft. tall but spreads widely. 'Fairfax' is a compact, mounding plant, growing 68 ft. tall.
M. pensylvanica. BAYBERRY. Deciduous to semievergreen shrub. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native to coastal eastern North America. Dense and compact, to 9 ft. tall and 512 ft. wide. Narrowish, glossy, green leaves to about 4 in. long. Roundish fruit is covered with fragrant white waxthe bayberry wax used for candles. Regular water.