Myrica cerifera (Southern Wax Myrtle) Unity Grown
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Myrica cerifera, commonly known as southern wax myrtle, is a large, broad-leaved evergreen shrub with aromatic leaves, closely related to dwarf wax myrtle, Myrica pusila; the two plants are so closely related that there is some debate whether southern wax myrtle is actually a separate species from Myrica pusila, or if it is just a naturally dwarfed cultivar.
Growing to a maximum height of 25-35' tall and 8-10' wide, though typically much smaller, Myrica cerifera is an extremely hardy shrub once established, and can be found in a wide range of habitats thanks to its tolerance of heat and drought as well as poorly-draining wet soils. Myrica cerifera is not, however, very tolerant of cold temperatures, and foliage will look best in mild winters; cold, windy winters can cause the plant to defoliate.
Southern wax myrtle blooms in early to late spring, depending on climate, and produces small, inconspciuous yellow-green flowers, which eventually turn to the blue-gray berries that give wax myrtle its other common name of waxberry. Waxberries are an excellent food source for a variety of birds, with their waxy coating protecting them from water and heat damage. Southern wax myrtle also has a larger growth habit than dwarf wax myrtle, which allows for a variety of birds to nest and perch among its branches.
Notes: Myrica cerifera is dioecious, meaning that there are male and female plants; males and females must be planted together to produce the best fruiting results.