Shrubs or rarely small trees, deciduous, rhizomatous, colonial, to 2(-4.5) m. Branchlets reddish brown and gland-dotted when young, becoming whitish gray in age, otherwise densely pilose; glands yellow. Leaf blade aromatic when crushed, oblanceolate to elliptic, occasionally obovate, 2.5-6.5(-7.8) × 1.5-2.7 cm, usually membranous, less often leathery, base cuneate to attenuate, margins sometimes entire, usually serrate distal to middle, apex obtuse to rounded, sometimes acute, short-apiculate; surfaces abaxially pale green, pilose on veins, moderately to densely glandular, adaxially dark green, pilose (especially along midrib), glandless or sparsely glandular; glands yellow-brown. Inflorescences: staminate 0.4-1.8 cm; pistillate 0.3-1.4 cm. Flowers unisexual, staminate and pistillate on different plants. Staminate flowers: bract of flower shorter than staminal column, margins opaque, apically ciliate or completely glabrous, usually abaxially glabrous, occasionally densely pilose; stamens mostly 3-4. Pistillate flowers: bracteoles persistent in fruit, 4, not accrescent or adnate to fruit wall, margins slightly ciliate or glabrous, abaxially usually densely gland-dotted; ovary wall densely hirsute near apex, otherwise glabrous. Fruits globose-ellipsoid, 3.5-5.5 mm; fruit wall and warty protuberances hirsute, at least when young, hairs usually obscured by thick coat of white wax. Flowering spring-early summer, fruiting late summer-fall. Coastal dunes, pine barrens, pine-oak forests, old fields, bogs, edges of streams, ponds, and swamps; 0-325 m; St. Pierre and Miquelon; N.B., Nfld., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Conn., Del., Maine, Md., Mass., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Va. Where their ranges overlap, Myrica pensylvanica hybridizes quite readily with both M . cerifera and M . heterophylla . This ease of hybridization obviously contributes to an already complicated taxonomic situation; it is a matter for further field-based investigation.
Bushy shrub 0.5-2 m; lvs deciduous, broadly oblanceolate to obovate or elliptic, mostly 4-8 נ1.5-3 cm and 2.5-4 times as long as wide, obtuse or rounded and minutely apiculate, entire or with a few low teeth toward the tip, generally (as also the twigs) with some glandless white hairs, in addition to the resinous glands, at least when young, the glands sometimes of 2 sorts as in no. 4 [Myrica cerifera L.], sometimes not; terminal bud present; outer bud scales glabrous, eciliate, broadly rounded distally; staminate catkins produced below the leafy branches in May or June, cylindric, 6-15 mm, with broadly quadrate bracts; anthers formed in the spring; pistillate catkins slender, 5-10 mm, with ovate bracts; bracteoles 4-6, ±persistent but remaining small and inconspicuous; ovary densely hairy as well as papillate; frs solitary or few in a cluster, subglobose, 3.5-5 mm, covered with a thick layer of white wax that masks the underlying papillae, and also ±densely short-hairy; 2n=16. Dry hills and shores, especially near the coast, from Nf. to N.C., and less commonly inland to O. and s. Ont. (Morella p.; Myrica and Cerothamnus caroliniensis of authors, perhaps not of Mill.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.