| Dwarf Wax Myrtle, Dwarf Candle-berry, Bayberry, Waxberry, Wax-Myrtle, Dwarf Southern Wax Myrtle|
Myrica cerifera var. pumila (Myrica pusilla)
Dwarf wax myrtle has become a mainstay in many Texas landscapes, valued for its aromatic, soft, evergreen foliage, 5- to 6-foot height and spread, and adaptability to full sun or bright shade and a variety of soils, ranging from boggy to very dry. Its native habitat features moist or dry sandy pine-hardwoods in East Texas, east to Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina, north to Arkansas and Delaware. It is very similar to Myrica cerifera, southern wax myrtle, and is considered by some botanists to be merely a dwarf variety of it. Dwarf wax myrtle has a horizontal, stoloniferous rootstalk and produces thickets or colonies, so would be useful for erosion control. In a landscape this suckering will produce ever thicker, fuller, denser growth, or may be curtailed by pruning or mowing. Resinous dots heavily coat both leaf surfaces which are dark green above and brownish or olive beneath, giving a two-toned or glossy olive green appearance which contrasts nicely with dark green plants. The fine-textured wispy foliage makes an excellent pruned hedge, or the plant may be limbed up to make an attractive specimen. New spring growth produces a bayberry scent which is evident on bruised leaves throughout the year. Dwarf wax myrtle is sensitive to cold or below-freezing winds which may defoliate or cause severely browned leaves. The brittle branches are also subject to splitting or breaking under ice or snow loads, but are very tolerant of salt spray. It is a dioecious plant, with profuse silvery blue-grey berries on the female plants, and also has nitrogen-fixing bacteria on root nodules. There are several named varieties of dwarf wax myrtle which vary by height, leaf size and color. It is not browsed by deer.
Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
Flower Color: yellow, tan
Blooming Period: spring
Fruit Characteristics: nutlet
Height: 3 to 6 feet
Width: 3 to 6 feet, thicket-forming
Plant Character: evergreen
Heat Tolerance: high
Soil Requirements: adaptable
Additional Comments: In 1994 the genus Myrica was split into Morella and Myrica. Jones et al in "The Vascular Plants of Texas" (1997) accepted this change and recognized Morella cerifera, including variety pumila. However, we have chosen to follow "Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas" (1999) traditional approach in retaining the genus Myrica.