Pacific Waxmrytle

Pacific Waxmrytle tree in backyard.
Reference: Morella-Californica-Tree-2.Jpg (JPEG Image, 650 × 491 Pixels). https://selectree.calpoly.edu/images/0900/50/original/morella-californica-tree-2.jpg. Accessed 17 Jan. 2020.

Latin (group) name: Myrica
Latin (specific) name: Myrica Californica Chamisso
Average max height: 20'
Average diameter: 8" to 12"
Official state tree: none
Category: American Woods
The Hardwoods - Broadleafs
Range map: Range map of Myrica Californica — Pacific wax myrtle.
Attribution: By U.S. Geological Survey - Digital representation of "Atlas of United States Trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22099719

The Tree

The Pacific Waxmyrtle is generally a large shrub 8 to 20 feet high, but frequently it attains a tree size of 25 to 30 feet high with a trunk diameter of 8 to 12 inches. The slender branches are ascending and form a dense narrow rounded crown. The trunk is short and the bark, which is a grayish-brown externally and deep reddish-brown within, is smooth. The leaves are thin but tough in texture, have slightly curled edges, and are glossy, very dark green above and a light yellowish-green beneath. There is a slightly resinous aromatic odor perceptible from the leaves. The small, berry-like, spherical, ashy-white fruits are about one-quarter inch in diameter, and mature in clusters. Technically, these fruits with shells which are very thick and hard, the surface of which is thickly coated with round grains of whitish wax, are nuts. A commercial vegetable wax is extracted from these berries. Because of the glossy, evergreen foliage and thick, shrubby character of the tree, it is a fine ornamental in zones of moderate climate.

pacific waxmyrtle fruit and foliage
Waxmyrtle fruit and foliage

Common Names in Use

  • Bayberry (Calif.)
  • California Myrtle (Calif.)
  • California Waxmyrtle (Calif.)
  • California Bayberry Waxmyrtle (Calif.)
  • Pacific Waxmyrtle
  • Waxmyrtle (Calif.)

Growth Range

The Pacific Waxmyrtle is native on the moist hill slopes and in the valleys of the Pacific Coast region from Puget Sound, Washington, to the Santa Monica Mountains of southern California.

The Wood

The wood of the Pacific Waxmyrtle is heavy, hard and stiff, close-grained and generally uniform in texture. The heartwood is a pale rose-red to light-brown with a narrow, lighter-colored sapwood. It is easily worked with tools and finishes nicely.


The small tree is useful as an ornamental species and the wax extracted from the berries has some commercial value. The wood is at present used only for novelty manufacture. The color and texture of the wood make it another interesting species for the home workshop.


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

Contributors to this page: John Morris and admin .
Page last modified on Friday April 10, 2020 09:11:27 PDT by John Morris.