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Toxic parts

Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, there is a report for some members of this genus that some of the constituents of the wax might be carcinogenic[1].

Edible uses


The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K].

Fruit - raw or cooked[2][3][4]. The fruit is about 2 - 4mm in diameter with a single large seed[5]. There is very little edible flesh and this is of poor quality[K]. Leaves and berries are used as a food flavouring[6][2][3]. An attractive and agreeable substitute for bay leaves, used in flavouring soups, stews etc[4].

The dried leaves are brewed into a robust tea[4].

Unknown part


Material uses

The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K].

A wax covering on the fruit is extracted by scalding the fruit with boiling water and immersing them for a few minutes, the wax floats to the surface and is then skimmed off. The fruit is then boiled in water to extract the wax from the pulp and once more the wax is skimmed off. It is then strained through a muslin cloth and can be used to make aromatic candles, sealing wax etc[7][8][9][10][6][11][12][13]. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather[14]. They are slightly aromatic, with a pleasant balsamic odour[13], and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles[14]. The wax is also used in making soaps[14]. About 1 kilo of wax can be obtained from 4 kilos of berries[8]. A blue dye is obtained from the fruit[9]. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge[5], succeeding in windy sites[K].

Wood - light, soft, brittle, fine-grained[15][16]. The wood weighs 35lb per cubic foot[16]. It is of no commercial value[17].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The following notes are for the closely related M. cerifera. It is assumed that they also apply to this species[K].

The root bark is astringent, emetic (in large doses), sternutatory, stimulant and tonic[8][18][19][20][14]. It is harvested in the autumn, thoroughly dried then powdered and kept in a dark place in an airtight container[8]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, jaundice, fevers, colds, influenza, catarrh, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge etc[8][21]. Externally, it is applied to indolent ulcers, sore throats, sores, itching skin conditions, dandruff etc[8][21]. The wax is astringent and slightly narcotic[8]. It is regarded as a sure cure for dysentery and is also used to treat internal ulcers[8].

A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers and externally as a wash for itchy skin[1].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions


Nitrogen fixer


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[22]. Stored seed germinates more freely if given a 3 month cold stratification and then sown in a cold frame[22]. Germination is usually good[22]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a cold frame for the first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer[K].

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up and overwinter in a cold frame then plant out in late spring or early summer. Fair to good percentage[22].

Layering in spring[5].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Myrica heterophylla. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a moist soil[5]. Grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade[5]. Thrives in any ordinary garden soil according to one report[10] whilst another says that it thrives in an acid soil[23]. Prefers a lime-free loamy or peaty soil[7]. Succeeds in dry and maritime climates[5].

Closely related to M. pensylvanica and M. cerifera[5]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[5].

Many species in this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[5].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Myrica heterophylla. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Myrica heterophylla.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Myrica heterophylla
Imported References
Edible uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
3 x meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  2. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
  3. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  5. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  6. ? Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
  7. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  8. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  9. ? Mabey. R. Plants with a Purpose. Fontana ISBN 0-00-635555-2 (1979-00-00)
  10. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-23310-3 (1976-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  13. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
  14. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
  16. ? Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292780206 (1982-00-00)
  17. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  21. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  22. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  23. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)