Bayberry (Myrica)

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Northern Bayberry

Deciduous (sheds leaves in autumn) shrub. It grows to be 5-10 ft (2-3 m) tall. Its leaves are 1-3 in (2-7 cm) long, and are broadest near the apex. The flowers are yellow catkins, and bloom in early spring. The fruits are wrinkled berries that have a pale, blue-white waxy coating, and ripen in the fall, and remain throughout the winter.
  • Habitat: Uncommon
Typically found around coastal areas, preferring to be near wood borders, thickets, ledges, or in sandy soil.
  • Additional Notes: The leaves have a spicy scent when crushed. The berries have a sweet-smelling scent, and are a favorite of the warbler bird. Extremely bitter taste.
  • Medicinal:
    • Part: Berries, Leaves, Root bark (primarily)
    • Usage (oral): Diarrhea, decongestant (for cold/flu/cough), fever, headaches, internal parasites, liver problems, stomach aches
    • Usage (topical): Itchy skin, skin ulcers, wound care (poultice from root bark)
  • Other: Scent masking. Scented Wax can be made from the berries, making them ideal for fragrant candles.
  • Poison: Non-toxic and non-lethal. Large doses can be used to induce vomiting as a treatment for poisoning.*
    • Part: Berries
    • Symptoms: Vomiting
*Insufficient research done on canines to confirm toxicity; this information based off of humans.

Sweet Gale

  • Species: Myrica gale
  • Common Names: Bog-myrtle, Sweet Bayberry, Sweet Gale, Sweet Willow
  • Description:
Deciduous (sheds leaves in autumn) shrub. It grows to be 3-6 ft (1-2 m) tall, though, averages around 4ft (1.2 m). Its leaves are 1-2 in (2-5 cm) long, spirally arranged, broad-tipped with a tapered base. The flowers are yellow or brown catkins, and bloom between March and April. The fruits are small drupes, and ripen in October.
  • Habitat: Uncommon
Found exclusively in wetlands, bogs, marshes, lake margins, and are often found growing near Labrador Tea.
  • Additional Notes: It is strongly aromatic, and has a sweet scent. It is a favorite food for beavers, and are often abundant if a beaver dam is built nearby.
  • Food: Beer (replacement for hops), Tea
    • Part: Fruit, Leaves
  • Dyes: Khaki Green, Yellow
    • Part: Leaves, Twig, Stem
  • Medicinal:
    • Part: Bark, Leaves
    • Usage (oral): Digestion problems (leaves), intestinal worms (dried bark)
    • Usage (topical): Insect/flea repellant, Wound care (oil)
  • Other: Insect repellant, Scent masking, Soaps
  • Poison: Non-toxic and non-lethal, however, the seeds should not be ingested.*
    • Part: Buds, Leaves, Flowers (Non-lethal), Seeds (Lethal)
    • Symptoms: Abortifacient (causes abortion)
*Insufficient research done on canines to confirm toxicity; this information based off of humans.

Additional Images

Catkins flowers by Wikimedia Commons Northern Bayberry fruit by Wikimedia Commons


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Additional Resources

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