Morella pensylvanica – Northern Bayberry

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Northern Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) is a native shrub that can be found on coastlines and in swampy woodlands.
Northern bayberry has alternate, waxy leaves which have a few shallow teeth at the tip end. The shrubs produce clusters of bluish gray fruits in the fall.
In the spring, the tender leaves can be used fresh as an herb. The flavor is reminiscent of bay leaf and juniper. As the season progresses, the leaves become fibrous and can then be used to flavor dishes, similarly to how one would use bay leaves.
To harvest leaves, snip a few leaves at the end of the branch as if you were pruning the shrub. This will encourage new growth. Never collect >10% of leaves from a shrub.
Bayberry berries can be used to make natural bayberry candles. Simmer berries in water for a few minutes to allow the wax to melt off. Cool completely. The fruit pulp will sink to the bottom and the wax will congeal on top.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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