An evergreen shrub that sends up multiple trunks. The leaves are alternate and simple and typically toothed toward the apices. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. The flowers are borne in catkins at the leaf axils. The fruit is small but conspicuous, round, waxy, and blue.
Wildlife – Larval host plant of the red-banded hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops
Winter flocks of swallows spiral down to feed on the fruits. This behavior seems unusual because these are normally insect-eating birds.
Waxy berry coating is removed by boiling. As four pounds yields one pound of wax, other plant relatives are more commonly used for bayberry candles. Seminoles fermented leaves into a tonic for headaches, fevers, and stomach aches. A mixture of wood ashes was placed on tongues of newly married couples to strengthen their marriages. Introduced to European settlers in the 1700s, the wax was an ingredient in surgeon’s soap, shaving lather, and sealing wax. Wax myrtle is planted around homes to keep fleas out and placed in closets to keep cockroaches away. Crushed leaves rubbed on your skin reportedly repel mosquitoes.