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MYRICACEAE

WAX MYRTLE FAMILY

James R. Shevock

Shrubs, trees, aromatic, evergreen or deciduous, generally monoecious or dioecious, generally with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in roots
Leaves simple, alternate, entire to pinnately lobed, resin-dotted; stipules generally 0
Inflorescence: spike, axillary, catkin-like; staminate and pistillate spikes separate
Flower generally unisexual, small; perianth 0
Staminate flower generally subtended by 2 bractlets
Pistillate flower subtended by 2–4 bractlets; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovule 1, style 1, stigmas 2, short
Fruit: generally drupe or nut, small, rough, waxy, sometimes winged or bur-like from fused bractlets
Genera in family: 3 genera, ± 50 species: generally temp, subtropical. Comptonia of e North America, Canacomyrica of New Caledonia each have 1 sp. Fr of some Myrica are boiled to produce fragrant wax.

MYRICA

Shrubs, small trees, monoecious or dioecious (flowers all unisexual)
Leaf ± spicy-scented; blade unlobed, distal half generally ± sharply serrate
Fruit generally ± spheric, sometimes compressed
Species in genus: ± 48 species: temp, subtropical
Etymology: (Greek: old name for a fragrant shrub)

Native

M. californica Cham. & Schltdl.

WAX MYRTLE

Shrub or small tree, 2–10 m, evergreen
Leaf generally ± narrowly elliptic-lanceolate, glabrous, glossy dark green, scented; tip generally sharply acute
Staminate flower: stamens 7–16, anthers much more conspicuous than subtending bractlets
Fruit few per pistillate inflorescence, 6–8 mm diam, covered with large, irregular, dark, detaching resin globules and conspicuous whitish wax
Ecology: Coastal dunes and scrub, closed-cone-pine and redwood forests
Elevation: < 150 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast, w Klamath Ranges, Outer North Coast Ranges, Central Coast, w San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast
Distribution outside California: to Washington
Horticultural information: 5; IRR: 6, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 &SHD: 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 20, 21; CVS.

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