Myrica pusila (Dwarf Wax Myrtle)
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Myrica pusila, commonly known as dwarf wax myrtle, is a small evergreen shrub with aromatic leaves, closely related to southern wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera; the two plants are so closely related that there is some debate whether dwarf wax myrtle is actually a separate species from Myrica cerifera, or if it is just a naturally dwarfed cultivar.
Growing to five to six feet tall and wide, Myrica pusila is an extremely hardy shrub, and can found in a wide range of habitats thanks to its tolerance of heat and drought as well as poorly-draining wet soils. Myrica pusila 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.
Dwarf wax myrtle blooms from March to June, depending on climate, and produces small, inconspciuous yellow-green flowers, which eventually turn to the blue-gray waxy 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. Dwarf wax myrtle also has a compact branch structure that makes for a naturally protected perching and nesting location for the same birds that eat its fruit.
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.