Wax Myrtle

Scientific Name: Morella Cerifera

Family: Myricaceae

Other Names: Merker Tree, Bayberry, Merkle Bush, Candleberry, Tallow Shrub

Cautions: Generally regarded as safe but should be avoided during pregnancy.

Herbarium Image: Coming Soon


Native to the eastern Americas, this is a perennial evergreen shrub with olive green very fragrant foliage. Reaches a height of about 20 ft. This plant has male and female plants. The berries on the female plants turn from green to blue when ripe. The leaves are simple, oblanceolate with a waxy texture. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches.

Traditional Medicinal Use

Planted in the yards of Waccamaw Siouan people to keep fleas away. Elders recall people digging up roots and selling them to wax makers. The Lumbee would boil leaves to treat whooping cough (1). The Choctaw uses both leaves and stems in an infusion to treat fever and sore throat. The leaves could be combined with other herbs to improve flavor (1).  A decoction of the leaves was used to treat fevers and headaches by the Choctaw and Micmac, respectively (2-3). In herbal medicine, Wax Myrtle root bark is used for congestion and colds, a laxative, and liver tonic (4)


Terpenoids include Myricadiol, taraxerol and taraxerone. The flavonoid Myricitrin has been shown to be anti-bacterial and regulate electrolyte secretion through the kidneys (4).


1. Boughman, A. L. a. O., L.O. (2003). Herbal Remedies of the Lumbee Indians. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland and Company, Inc. .

2. Bushnell, Jr., David I., 1909, The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, SI-BAE Bulletin #48, page 23

3. Chandler, R. Frank, Lois Freeman and Shirley N. Hooper, 1979, Herbal Remedies of the Maritime Indians, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1:49-68, page 58

4. Barnes, J et al., Herbal Medicines 3rd Ed. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK. 2007

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