Myrica pensylvanica is the botanical name of northern bayberry. The species has male and female plants - monoecious or dioecious. Flowers occur in early spring and are not showy. Female plants produce numerous small, blue-grey, waxy round fruit in the fall.
Its active growth period is in the spring. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. It has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate.
It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2-4.5 m tall except on sand dunes and poor quality sites. The leaves are 2.5-7 cm long and 1.5-2.7 cm broad, broadest near the leaf apex, serrated, and sticky with a spicy scent when crushed. The flowers are catkins 3-18 mm long, in range of colors from green to red. The fruit is a wrinkled berry 3-5.5 mm diameter, with a pale blue-purple waxy coating.
Foliage ranges from medium to dark green, alternate, obovate, and sparsely serrated on the upper half of some leaves. It is semi-evergreen to deciduous in winter, with some dead brown leaves also hanging on throughout most of the winter.