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The genus name Myrica comes from the Greek prefix myri-, meaning “very many,” as in “myriad.” This many-branched shrub puts forth a profusion of small blossoms, which mature into waxy gray berries (actually nutlets). The species name pennsylvanica refers to the region in eastern America where this shrub was first identified. Bayberry flourishes in sandy, sterile soils from eastern coastal regions and inland meadows extending from southern Canada to Virginia and parts of North Carolina.

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Stout and aromatic, bayberry grows from three to twelve feet tall, with numerous grayish-white branches, supporting many glossy leaves. The male catkins appear in early spring, generally before the new leaves. Tiny yellowish flower clusters are closely spaced along the downy stems below the outer leaves, blooming from April through July; the hairy, green berrylike fruits, clustered along the mid-branches, ripen to a downy, waxy grayish white in late fall and winter. Many people collect the waxy berries to make aromatic candles Buy Tapentadol 100mg.

Bayberry leaves, bark, twigs, and fruits have diverse medicinal uses, as do its close relatives candle-berry, M. cerifera (wax myrtle), and sweet gale, M. gale. All have aromatic qualities, especially in their leaves, which have tiny oil glands on the underside. It is sometimes difficult to tell the species apart because the leaves and growth habits are very similar.

Traditional uses:

Creek and Seminole Indians used bayberry in some of their “spirit ceremonies” and carried the fragrant leaves and twigs as preventive medicine to ward off disease. Louisiana Choctaws decocted the leaves and twigs in water to lower fevers, as did the Houma; many tribes also used similar fragrant bayberry decoctions to bathe skin irritations and to sprinkle inside their houses to counteract sadness. Besides valuing bayberry leaf decoctions for skin irritations, Lumbees chewed the fresh roots to relieve stomach pains and ulcers. Micmacs and other northern~Algonquian peoples used dried, powdered bayberry leaves as snuff to treat headache and nosebleeds.

Astringent, aromatic bayberry leaf tea served as a stimulant and to treat afterbirth pains. Pounded root bark was boiled and made into a poultice to treat toothaches and applied to wounds and bruises to reduce infection and inflammation. Many tribal groups used the fresh aromatic twigs as chew sticks and dentifrices to massage their gums and clean their teeth. Some Great Lakes Indians used the fresh branches as insect repellents, and dried the branches to burn as an insecticidal smudge.

Modern uses:

Today bayberry root bark infusions are used to increase circulation, stimulate perspiration, relieve sores, and fight bacterial infections. Bayberry’s astringent qualities help ease intestinal problems and ulcers and, in a gargle, help relieve sore throat. The leaves, fresh or dried, make enjoyable teas and food seasonings. The leaves are also used as insect repellents.

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