Morella californica

            a.k.a. “Myrica californica”

California wax-myrtle/Pacific wax-myrtle/Pacific bayberry




Source:                Source:




Along the western U.S. coast from southern California to Gray’s Harbor, Washington.  An isolated population also exists on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (2)




Climate, elevation:

  • coastal climates with rainfall between 40 and 70” (5)
  • elevation below 500’ (1)


Local occurrence (where, how common)

It can commonly be found in:

·        coastal sage scrub community

·        chaparral community (1)


Habitat preferences

The California wax-myrtle prefers sunny stabilized dunes or canyons and moist slopes. (1,3)


Plant strategy type/successional stage (stress-tolerator, competitor, weedy/colonizer, seral, late successional)

California wax-myrtle tolerates high salinity.  It is intolerant of shade, fire and drought.


Associated species

Gaultheria shallon (salal), Vaccinium ovatum (California huckleberry), Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron), Rubus ursinus (California blackberry), Baccharis pilularis (coyotebrush), Pinus contorta var. contorta (lodgepole pine), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir)


May be collected as: (seed, layered, divisions, etc.)

The plant may be collected as seeds or cuttings.  Layering is also effective, and is less time-consuming. (3)


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Seed collection should be done in the fall. (3)

The blue-grey berries are collected as late as January in warmer climates.

Hardwood cuttings may be taken between November 1st and January 31st. (4)


Seed germination (needs dormancy breaking?)

Seeds require 3 months stratification.  The waxy coating should be removed prior to stratification by soaking clean seeds overnight.  Germination may take more than 100 days. (3)


Seed life (can be stored, short shelf-life, long shelf-life)

Seeds may be stored.


Recommended seed storage conditions

Store with waxy coating in dark, dry conditions.


Propagation recommendations (plant seeds, vegetative parts, cuttings, etc.)

Seed germination requires cold stratification.  If time is a factor, layering is a much faster propagation method. 


Soil or medium requirements (inoculum necessary?)

It prefers a peaty, slightly acidic soil. (3)

Soil texture should be medium to coarse. (5)

Soi pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5.


Installation form (form, potential for successful outcomes, cost)

Not specified.


Recommended planting density

Planting density per acre should be between 700 and 1700. (5)


Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.)

Soil should be kept moist.


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

Growth is moderate and its lifespan is long. (5)


Sources cited


2.      Pojar, Jim, Mackinnon, Andy.  Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast.  Canada: Lone Pine, 1994.

3.      Kruckeberg, A.R. Gardening with Native Plants. University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1982.





Data compiled by: Julia Walker, 5/28/2005