Foraging Fragrant Leaves: Small Bayberry

I often recognize plants by look alone, but sometimes my nose can help nail down an identity. Such is the case with Small Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis).

Photo of Small Bayberry immature fruit

Distinctive bluish waxy fruit -- which ripens in the fall, but can remain on the shrub into the following spring -- can often be found along the twigs of this shrub, below the most recent year's green growth.  In early summer, the tiny fruit is green and forming, but it is still a solid field mark.

Photo of Small Bayberry branch

The resinous leaves provide another clue.  Rubbing them gently with my fingers releases their pleasant aroma.  Last week, I dried some Small Bayberry leaves to use as a food seasoning, similar to the culinary bay leaf.

This shrub grows in many Plainville locations, often thriving in poor soil conditions. I often find it along roads, power-line cuts, and in old fields.  Small Bayberry also grows in many coastal locations, and is frequently used in landscaping.

Check out my related posts: Foraging Fragrant Leaves: Sweetfern and Foraging Fragrant Leaves: Sassafras.

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