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Common name: 
Wax Myrtle
2 - some flavor
Prefers a moist soil[200]. Grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade[200]. Thrives in any ordinary garden soil according to one report[11] whilst another says that it thrives in an acid soil[182]. Prefers a lime-free loamy or peaty soil[1]. Plants can be evergreen in areas with warmer winters than in Britain[227]. Some reports say that the plant is dioecious whilst others say it is monoecious. It is most likely that both forms exist[82, K]. A polymorphic species[11], there are some named forms. 'Myda' is a large-fruited female form of low growth[182]. The fruit is covered with a deposit of wax that has a balsamic odour[245]. The fruits can hang on the plant for several years[213]. Closely related to M. pensylvanica, with which it hybridizes[43]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. 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[200].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[78]. Stored seed germinates more freely if given a 3 month cold stratification and then sown in a cold frame[78]. Germination is usually good[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the 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[78]. Layering in spring[200].
Myda: A large-fruited female form of low growth[182].
Myrica cerifera

Drought tolerant: Maybe

Habitats: edge, shade, woods

Edible Uses: spice, tea

Flood tolerant: Yes

Zone hardiness: 6

Family: Myricaceae

Genus: Myrica

Physical characteristics: deciduous, shrub, tree
Leaves and berries are used as a food flavouring[62, 105, 177]. They make an aromatic, attractive and agreeable substitute for bay leaves, and can be used in flavouring soups, stews etc[183]. The dried leaves are brewed into a robust tea[183]. Wax myrtle is a popular herbal remedy in North America where it is employed to increase the circulation, stimulate perspiration and keep bacterial infections in check[254]. The plant should not be used during pregnancy[254]. The root bark is antibacterial, astringent, emetic (in large doses), sternutatory, stimulant and tonic[4, 21, 46, 165, 213, 254]. It is harvested in the autumn, thoroughly dried then powdered and kept in a dark place in an airtight container[4]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, jaundice, fevers, colds, influenza, catarrh, excessive menstruation, vaginal discharge etc[4, 238, 254]. Externally, it is applied to indolent ulcers, sore throats, spongy gums, sores, itching skin conditions, dandruff etc[4, 238, 254]. The wax is astringent and slightly narcotic[4]. It is regarded as a sure cure for dysentery and is also used to treat internal ulcers[4]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers and externally as a wash for itchy skin[222]. A wax covering on the fruit contains palmitic acid and 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[1, 4, 6, 11, 62, 95, 171, 245, 274]. Candles made from this wax are quite brittle but are less greasy in warm weather[213]. They are slightly aromatic, with a pleasant balsamic odour[245], and do not smoke when put out, making them much more pleasant to use that wax or tallow candles[213]. The wax is also used in making soaps[213]. About 1 kilo of wax can be obtained from 4 kilos of berries[4]. A blue dye is obtained from the fruit[6]. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge[200], succeeding in windy sites[K]. Wood - light, soft, brittle, fine-grained[82, 227]. The wood weighs 35lb per cubic foot[227]. It is of no commercial value[229].
References: [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips. [1] F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951 Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]). [4] Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants. [6] Mabey. R. Plants with a Purpose. Fontana 1979 ISBN 0-00-635555-2 Details on some of the useful wild plants of Britain. Poor on pictures but otherwise very good. [11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981 A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures. [21] Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books 1983 ISBN 0-553-23827-2 Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book. [43] Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. 1950 A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America. [46] Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim 1959 An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader. [50] ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press 1964 An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader. [62] Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold 1982 ISBN 0442222009 Very readable. [78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948 A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants. [82] Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. 1965 ISBN 0-486-20278-X Two volumes, a comprehensive listing of N. American trees though a bit out of date now. Good details on habitats, some details on plant uses. Not really for the casual reader. [95] Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Dover Publications 1976 ISBN 0-486-23310-3 Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide. [105] Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing 1976 The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader. [165] Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. 0 An excellent small herbal. [171] Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press 1952 Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover. [177] Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books 1984 ISBN 3874292169 An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts. [182] Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray 1992 ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties. [183] Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications 1990 ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world. [200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5 Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed. [213] Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books 1980 ISBN 0-449-90589-6 A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical. [222] Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1990 ISBN 0395467225 A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties. [227] Vines. R.A. Trees of North Texas University of Texas Press. 1982 ISBN 0292780206 A readable guide to the area, it contains descriptions of the plants and their habitats with quite a bit of information on plant uses. [229] Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. 1980 ISBN 0442238622 A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions. [238] Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. 1995 ISBN 0-7513-020-31 A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant. [245] Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. 1994 ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations. [254] Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London 1996 ISBN 9-780751-303148 An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world. [274] Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas Botanical Research Institute, Texas. 1999 ISBN 1-889878-01-4 An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.