Evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 33 ft (10 m). Has narrow leaves, small yellow flowers in catkins, and waxy gray berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Bayberry is found in coastal regions of the eastern and southern U.S., as far west as Texas. The root bark is collected in autumn or spring.
Bayberry contains triterpenes (including taraxerol, taraxerone, and myricadiol), flavonoids, tannins, phenols, resins, and gums. Myricadiol has a mild effect on potassium and sodium levels.
History & Folklore
Settlers in North America extolled the medicinal benefits of bayberry. A 1737 account stated that the plants “expel wind and ease all manner of pains proceeding from cold, therefore are good in colic, palsies, convulsions, epilepsies, and many other disorders.” The root bark was listed in the U.S. National Formulary from 1916 to 1936.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Bayberry is used to increase circulation, stimulate perspiration, and keep bacterial infections in check. Colds, flu, coughs, and sore throats benefit from treatment with this herb. It helps to strengthen resistance to infection and to tighten and dry mucous membranes. An infusion is helpful for spongy gums, and a gargle is used for sore throats.
Bayberry’s astringency is beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome and mucous colitis. An infusion can help treat excess vaginal discharge. A paste of the powdered root bark may be used externally on ulcers and sores.
Do not take in pregnancy.