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Pacific Wax Myrtle Myrica californica Shrub

Pacific Wax Myrtle Myrica californica Shrub

Regular price $29.99
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Pacific Wax Myrtle Myrica californica Shrub

Myrica californica (Pacific Wax Myrtle) - This California native is a vigorous multi-branched evergreen shrub reaching up to about 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide - easily kept smaller. It has smooth gray bark and upright stems that are densely clothed with lustrous 4-inch long, toothed-edge leaves which emerge a bright apple green is spring and darken as they mature.

Myrica species are either dioecious, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants or as in the case of the Pacific Wax Myrtle monoecious, with unisexual flowers on the same plant. Both male and female flowers are inconspicuous and in tiny reddish yellow catkins late spring and summer. The female flowers can be followed by brownish-purple berries that ripen in fall and are highly attractive to myrtle warblers and many other birds.

The foliage or nectar of this plant also attracts several butterfly species. Performs best in full sun to partial shade with a quick-draining soil. It is drought tolerant in coastal plantings but looks better when given occasional to regular irrigation. Cold hardy, tolerating temperatures below 15° F. Drought stressed plants are sometimes attacked by greenhouse thrips in coastal plantings and mites in inland gardens but both can be mitigated by increased irrigation and/or the use of horticultural soaps or oils.

This plant is suitable for use as large hedges, screens or as a specimen small tree. High wind and salt tolerance make it perfect for seaside use. The leaves have a spicy aroma that can be used like bay leaves to season food and for this reason this plant is often referred to as California Bayberry.

Medicinal use of Wax Myrtle: Wax myrtle is a popular herbal remedy in North America where it is employed to increase the circulation, stimulate perspiration and keep bacterial infections in check. The plant should not be used during pregnancy. The root bark is antibacterial, astringent, emetic (in large doses), sternutatory, stimulant and tonic. It is harvested in the autumn, thoroughly dried then powdered and kept in a dark place in an airtight container.

It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, jaundice, fevers, colds, influenza, catarrh, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge etc. Externally, it is applied to indolent ulcers, sore throats, spongy gums, sores, itching skin conditions, dandruff etc. The wax is astringent and slightly narcotic. It is regarded as a sure cure for dysentery and is also used to treat internal ulcers. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers and externally as a wash for itchy skin.

Edible parts of Wax Myrtle: Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit is about 3mm in diameter with a large seed. There is very little edible flesh and the quality is poor. Leaves and berries are used as a food flavouring. They make an aromatic, attractive and agreeable substitute for bay leaves, and can be used in flavouring soups, stews etc. The dried leaves are brewed into a robust tea.

Other uses of the herb: A wax covering on the fruit contains palmitic acid and is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles, sealing wax etc. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather.

They are slightly aromatic, with a pleasant balsamic odour, and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles. The wax is also used in making soaps. About 1 kilo of wax can be obtained from 4 kilos of berries. A blue dye is obtained from the fruit. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge, succeeding in windy sites. Wood - light, soft, brittle, fine-grained. The wood weighs 35lb per cubic foot.

The plant is currently growing in a one gallon container, but will be shipped with the roots wrapped in damp paper towels and with plastic and ready to plant upon arrival. The plant will be between 10” to 12” in height. Planting guidelines will also be included.

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