Bayberry Shrub: A Bird Magnet

 Bayberry Shrub


Birds Love The Berries Of A Bayberry Shrub

The Myrtle Warbler, or the western counterpart, Audubon’s warbler, is the most abundant warbler and wanders farther north than any other. It breeds throughout northern coniferous woodlands, showing preference for the more open stands and borders of clearings. In migration, myrtles occur everywhere and are especially abundant in brushy areas, hedgerows, field borders, gardens and weedy tangles.

Although most of these warblers spend their winter in the southern part of the United States and range as far as northern South America, a large number come to rest in our northern states and remain there for the cold weather.

The myrtle warbler is one of the few warblers that can subsist for long periods upon berries and seeds, though undoubtedly it prefers insects when it can get them. Along the shores of large bodies of water during the winter, many flies rise from the seaweed in sheltered spots on mild days, even in January. There are also eggs of plant lice and some hibernating insects to be found on trees and shrubs.

But the principal food of the myrtle warbler during the inclement season is the bayberry bush. So delighted by these berries their travels seem to be largely dependent by the failure or success of the bayberry crop. The "wax" of this fruit is chemically a true fat, hence digestible and heat-productive.

Unfortunately, now that thousands of European starlings remain on our sea-coasts for the winter, the bayberries are devoured earlier in the season than would be the case were the berries left to the native birds alone. We may expect the wintering myrtles gradually to disappear from our coastal regions if the starlings continue to increase at their present rate. Therefore, any planting of bayberry shrubs by home owners and gardeners not only enhances esthetic values but also aids in conservation.

The bayberry, sometimes called wax-myrtle or candleberry, Myrica pensylcanica, is a fine ornamental noted for its aromatic semi-evergreen foliage and attractive fruit. It grows well in sandy and poor soils and tolerates salt spray.

The northern variety grows to a height of about 9 feet, while the southern form, Myrica cerifera, becomes a small tree. The latter prefers moist and peaty soils. In both varieties, the sexes are separate so that pistillate and staminate flowering plants must be grown, in close proximity to insure production of the very ornamental, grayish white berries. They remain on the plant for several seasons.

If the berries are boiled, the wax will melt from the fruit and come to the surface. This can then be cooled and skimmed over to be used for making bayberry candles, which give off a pleasant odor as they burn. In early American homes the boiled roots produced a tea for headaches; while the bark was used for poultices and for jaundice. The Scottish people use the leaves for brewing in place of hops.

Bayberries make handsome shrubs for our gardens, are excellent material for interior decorating and arrangements, and serve as food for over 90 species of birds.

Additional Bayberry Info & Flower Gardening Tips

Attracting Bluebirds

The Connecticut Botanical Society lists many of these plus mountain laurel, bayberry, rosebay, some azaleas, fragrant sumac, high bush blueberry, plus others.

Garden Design, Perennial Flower Gardening, Gardening Tips

Garden Design, Perrenial Flower Gardening, Gardening Tips. One miniature ornamental shrub that I will be adding to my plant assortment next season is in the Barberry family. Berberis shrubs are dense and thorny, with foliage in the red to purple shades. Some gardeners use them as hedge plants.

Larry’s Photo A Day: Barberry Shrub

I took this photo about a month ago of my barberry bush. It really has quite a nice pattern of various colors. On the color wheel that would be called an analogous color scheme.

Winter’s Cold Wind Needn’t End Garden’s Enjoyment

Barberry and bayberry drop their leaves in the winter, but both have showy berries; reddish-orange egg-shaped on barberry and a waxy gray green fruit on bayberry.

Winter Resistant Plants And Shrubs

If you are looking for a winter resistant shrub with fruit that won’t attract the deer throughout the seasons, the bayberry shrub is an excellent choice. For those homeowners who enjoy birds munching in the spring, summer and fall.

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