Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Myrica (Myrica faya) is a large shrub or small tree that is a major weed in Hawaii.
  • It is a potential weed of open woodlands, disturbed forests, rainforest margins, forestry plantations, pastures and roadsides.
  • It is spread by fruit-eating birds and other animals, including feral pigs.
  • It forms dense stands and replaces native vegetation.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Myrica (Myrica faya) is a large multi-stemmed shrub or small tree usually growing 4-8 m tall, but capable of reaching 15 m in height. The stems are covered in reddish hairs and bear alternately arranged leaves. The leaves are 4-11 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, and are hairless and narrowly oblong or somewhat lance-shaped. They have minutely toothed to toothed edges, which are often rolled downwards. The upper surface of the leaves is dark green and shiny.

Separate male and female flowers are mostly borne on different plants, although a few male flowers may occasionally be present on female plants and vice versa. The flowers are purple, green or pink and are arranged in small drooping clusters among the leaves near the ends of the branches. Male flowers have four stamens (pollen bearing stalks) and are usually nearer the tips of the branches, while female flowers are further from the branch tips.

The small and slightly fleshy fruit is berry like and dark red, purplish or blackish when mature. Each fruit, about 6 mm across, contains one to five seeds that usually mature in late summer or early autumn, although they may be present all year round (Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of Myrica, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple, Green, Pink

Growth form (weed type/habit)

Shrub, Tree

Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Myrica is a potential weed of open woodlands, disturbed forests, rainforest margins, forestry plantations, pastures and roadsides in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate regions (Navie 2004).

Are there similar species?

Myrica is similar to four closely related species that have been grown in Australia as garden plants, but none of these other species have become naturalised. Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) has elongated leaves that are often wider towards the tips and its relatively small fruit are 2-4 mm across and bluish-white or greyish-blue. Pacific Wax Myrtle (Morella californica) has elongated leaves and its relatively large fruit are 4-6.5 mm across and dark purple to light grey. Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) has relatively broad leaves that are egg-shaped in outline and its relatively small fruit are 3.5-5.5 mm across and bluish-white. Sweet Gale (M. gale) has elongated or oval leaves and its relatively small fruit are 2.5-3 mm across and brownish-coloured (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: Myrica is a major weed in Hawaii. Although it often invades disturbed areas, it also competes successfully with native vegetation. It forms dense stands under which nothing grows. It is able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and the increased availability of nitrogen may then favour non-native plant species that are then better able to compete for resources. The fallen leaves are also suspected of being able to inhibit the germination of other species (Benton 2006; DPI 2008; PIER 2008).

How does it spread?

Myrica reproduces by seeds, which are most commonly spread by fruit eating birds and other animals, including feral pigs (Navie 2004; Benton 2006).

What is its history in Australia?

In Australia, Myrica is mostly grown in botanic gardens (Csurhes & Edwards 1998).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Chemical control: In Hawaii, herbicide is the primary tool used to control Myrica. Because exotic birds and feral pigs are important dispersal agents of the seeds, control of these animals helps to limit further spread (Seibold 2000; Benton 2006; PIER 2008).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Myrica is a prolific seed producer. In Hawaii, fruit production is strongly seasonal, peaking between September and December. Trees can produce their first fruit at four to six years of age, when they are approximately 3 m tall. The seed remains viable in the soil for a long period (Csurhes & Edwards 1998; Navie 2004; PIER 2008).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Myrica is very rarely naturalised in Australia at present. It has been recorded in south-eastern Queensland and southern Victoria (Navie 2004).

Where does it originate?

Myrica is native to Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Azores (Navie 2004).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Morella faya

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

Morella faya (Ait.) Wilbur

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Fire Tree, Faya Tree, Firebush, Candleberry Myrtle

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study