Scientific name: Morella pensylvanica
A spreading, much-branched shrub, 3-12 feet tall. Bayberry is an upright shrub, which is typically 5 to 8 feet in height, except on sand dunes and poor quality sites. The species has male and female plants. Bayberry is a natural selection for conservation plantings and for landscaping on coastal sands.
A spreading, much-branched shrub, 3-12 feet tall.
Bayberry is an upright shrub, which is typically 5 to 8 feet in height, except on sand dunes and poor quality sites. The species has male and female plants. Bayberry is a natural selection for conservation plantings and for landscaping on coastal sands.
Good to Know
The highly scented fruit of bayberry was a source of wax for early settlers in America. This scent is still used in candle making. The aromatic fruit laden branches, bare of leaves, have often been utilized for residential decoration in fall and winter.
Bayberry is a native of the eastern coastal zone. Although adapted to a variety of soil conditions, it performs best on light textured soils. It naturally spreads to bare soil areas of sandy soils, but not into sod or cultivated sites.
Glossy, fragrant gray-green, egg-shaped leaves remain on the plant in the southern part of its range, or turn tan-colored and persist into winter farther north.
Female plants produce numerous small, blue-grey, waxy round fruit in the fall.
Flowers occur in early spring and are not showy. Green catkins appear before leaves.
Colonies of this salt spray tolerant shrub provide excellent secondary stabilization and cover to the back dune areas of the mid-Atlantic coastline. Bayberry is used effectively in hedges, wildlife borders, and on road banks. Because some leaves remain on the plant throughout most of the winter months, it provides year-round shelter for game and non-game animals alike. The berries provide a key energy source for swallows migrating south along the mid-Atlantic coast. These fruit are retained on the plant well into winter above any accumulated snow, making them readily available for bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, ring-necked pheasant and numerous songbirds to consume.
More on Trees and Shrubs in Lewisboro
Lewisboro was once entirely forested except for patches of open field caused by fire and wetlands and ponds which were expanded by beaver dams. Although it is hard to believe, by 1800 most of Lewisboro’s forests had been cut down and replaced by farms. In 1820 so many trees had been cleared that there was no shade anywhere along the route from Boston to New York. But by the mid-1800’s farming here became uneconomical and as farms were abandoned, the forests began to re-grow. Today, 70% of New York is once again forest, what some call ‘the great environmental story of the United States’. These new forests provide us with beauty and recreation, clean air and water, flood control, erosion prevention, carbon sequestration, cooler temperatures and habitat for other plants, insects, birds and other wildlife.
 Cronon, William. Changes in the Land. Macmillan, 1983.
 An Explosion of Green. B. Mckibben. Atlantic Monthly 275 (April 1995): 61-83.