Myrica pensylvanica is a deciduous shrub growing to 4.5 m tall. The leaves are 2.5-7 cm long and 1.5-2.7 cm broad, broadest near the leaf apex, serrate, and sticky with a spicy scent when crushed. The flowers are borne in catkins 3-18 mm long, in range of colors from green to red. The fruit is a wrinkled berry 3-5.5 mm diameter, with a pale blue-purple waxy coating; they are an important food for Yellow-rumped Warblers.
This species has root nodules containing nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, allowing it to grow in relatively poor soils.
Bayberry essential oil, extracted from the aromatic leaves, is used to scent many products. Bayberry essential oil is moderately toxic due to a high eugenol content.
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