Waxmyrtle, or Myrica cerifera, is a small tree that starts off more shrub-like. But it is a rapidly-growing, evergreen capable of reaching a height of 25 feet with a similar spread. This is an amazingly adaptable tree. It's naturally found in wetlands, sand dunes, fields, hillsides, pine barrens, and forest verge. Its range is from Central America to Delaware and Maryland in the United States but is also grown in gardens as far north as the state of New York.

Its chief attribute is the pale, olive-green foliage which has the added bonus of a spicy fragrance. And, being evergreen, it is well suited as a small screen. Waxmyrtle is dioecious and all flowers are borne in inflorescences blooming in late winter to spring, and female specimens bear attractive pale blue fruit in late summer and autumn. This fruit is a source of food for numerous bird species, making Waxmyrtle a must-have for the wild-life friendly garden. The berries are also coated with wax which, in colonial America, was used by colonists to make fragrant  candles, a practice still followed today. And the roots possess nodules which fix nitrogen at a faster rate than legumes and improve infertile soil. And finally, the handsome gray bark is so pale on some plants as to be almost white and is quite attractive.

Waxmyrtle is ideal for use as a small tree, with a willowy, multi-trunked form. One, or several clustered together, provide pleasing dappled shade for terraces or courtyards. The size lends itself to almost any size property and it can grow almost anywhere but the coldest regions. It tolerates both soil and aerosol salt, as well as most soil types. It tolerates flood and even drought, once established. It's well suited to most of the United States, though not to Canada, where the Bayberry, or Myrica pensylvanica is better suited. Wax myrtle is also well-suited to Australia and New Zealand. There are numerous cultivars based on size and foliage pattern but these are usually only found at better plant nurseries.



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