AKA: Bayberry, waxberry, candleberry, wax myrtle, myrtle, tallow
shrub, tallow berry, American
vegetable tallow tree. Also know as bayberry is a tropical American tree,
the bay rum tree, the leaves of
which are used in preparation of bay rum. The sweet gale, or bog myrtle,
is found in Scotland.
Habitat: Native to sandy swamps or wetwoods. Grows well in poor sandy
Description: All bayberry plants are characterized by naked flowers,
small nuts referred to as
berries that are covered with a greenish white wax. Southern wax myrtle
is a shrub or slender tree up to 40
feet high. Northern bayberry is a shrub 8 feet high or less, with broader
and blunter leaves.
Bayberry leaves are fragrant with the bayberry scent when crushed.
Bayberry wax: Bayberry wax has a warm, earthy fragrance similar to
balsam. It is a lovely olive
green color. It is sometimes blended with beeswax. Bayberry candles are
especially popular around the
holidays. Bayberry wax is the rarest and most prized of all candle waxes.
It takes 15 pounds of bayberries
to make just one pound of bayberry wax. The berries are boiled, and the
wax coating is separated from
the seeds, is skimmed and strained. Pure bayberry wax is recommended for
dipped tapers. It will not
burn properly as a piller or votive. Melt point is approximately 116 degrees
F (47 c). Soap can also be made
from bayberry wax.
History: Since early colonial times bayberry taper candles have
been burned all the way down on
Christmas Eve or New Years Eve to bring good luck for the coming year.