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 What is Myrtlewood?

Common Name: Oregon Myrtlewood, Pepperwood, Bay Laurel

Latin Name: Umbellularia californica

Family: Lauraceae (Laurel)

Oregon Myrtlewood is a broadleaf evergreen native to Southwestern Oregon and Northwestern California. The Umpqua River watershed appears to be the northern boundary of its native habitat.

 Although different, Oregon Myrtlewood has a lot of similarities to the Myrtlewood growing in the Holy Land.

The Myrtle tree grows 60-120’ in the wild. It is very slow growing putting on only 1-12" of growth during each of its first few years. They may take 80-120 years to reach full size. It is often multi trunk but can be kept pruned to a single trunk tree. When growing in the open it tends to have a dense, rounded , ‘gumdrop shape’. On a shady hillside it grows much taller and narrower. Myrtlewood tolerates many conditions, but grows best and fastest in deep soil with lots of compost, ample water and full sun.

The leaves are 3-5 inches long, 1 inch wide, pointed at the tip, medium green, glossy on top, and dull light green beneath. The crushed leaves have a powerful aromatic scent which can be used as a sure identification. The leaves are frequently used in cooking as a substitute for True Bay (Lauris nobilis), and are also noted as a flea repellant when freshly crushed. The Myrtlewood has clusters of small yellow flowers (or umbels) which bloom in late winter and olive like seeds or nuts which usually fall from the trees in the fall.

Myrtlewood trees will regrow from their stump and are also grown from their seeds. The Myrtlewood Gallery in Reedsport is actively planting Myrtlewood trees around the area. 

Here many trees are growing from a fallen log.

Oregon Myrtlewood became popular for making gift items back in the early 1900’s. It is a hardwood which takes many finishes well. Oregon Myrtlewood possesses a wide variety of beautiful colors and grain patterns and is noted by many as being one of the world’s most beautiful woods. The color of the wood is often influenced by the minerals in the soil where it grows which could be a factor in its popularity here on the Oregon coast. The colors range from blond to black with many shades of honey, browns, grays, reds and greens in between. 

Oregon woodworkers have developed a small cottage industry making handcrafted Myrtlewood products and gifts for visitors and residents of the area. Many beautiful gifts and works of art crafted out of Myrtlewood by over 80 different Oregon Artists are displayed at The Myrtlewood Gallery in Reedsport.

Myrtlewood trees can be seen where they have been planted around town, along the river banks, or along many of the highways and backroads of the surrounding South coast range. Highway 38 & 138 from about 12 miles east of Reedsport toward Roseburg is lined with lots of Myrtle trees. Humbug Park, South of Port Orford on 101, is another good place to view full grown Myrtlewood Trees.

In the Bible, the Myrtle tree is of special religious significance, representing fertility and life.

A few examples of Myrtlewood’s exquisite grain patterns.

Common Myrtle

Spalted Myrtle

Myrtle Burl

Tiger Myrtle 

Fiddleback Myrtle

The Myrtlewood Gallery
1125 Highway 101
Reedsport, OR 97467





Oregon's Largest Myrtlewood Tree is approximately 88 feet tall and 42 feet in circumference. Its canopy is nearly 70 feet wide. The tree is about 10 miles up the Rogue River east of Gold Beach. 

The hike along the Myrtle Tree  Trail to Oregon's largest Myrtlewood only takes a few minutes. 

To get to the trail from Highway 101, drive east on Jerry's Flat Road toward Agness. At approximately 9.5 miles turn left on Forest Service Road No. 3310, cross the bridge and turn right on Silver Creek Road (Road No. 3533). Watch for the trail signs. The trail itself is one-quarter mile in length, winding through a myrtle grove.



The Myrtlewood Gallery
1125 Highway 101
Reedsport OR 97467
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