bayberry, common name for the Myricaceae, a family of trees and shrubs with aromatic foliage, found chiefly in temperate and subtropical regions. The waxy gray "berries" of the North American wild or cultivated bayberry shrubs (chiefly Myrica cerifera ) are used to make fragrant bayberry candles, scented soap, and sealing wax; bayberry is also called candleberry and wax myrtle. Sweet gale ( M. gale ), a bog plant, yields tannic acid. Sweet fern ( Comptonia peregrina ) is a North American shrub found chiefly in the E United States and cultivated elsewhere in dry, sandy areas. Its foliage is used for medicines and tea. Bayberry is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Myricales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.