Common Name: Red Bay
Red bay is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 15 metres tall with a round, spreading crown that casts a dense shade[
The tree is harvested from the wild for a number of uses. Its leaves are used as a condiment, whilst the plant also has a number of medicinal applications. The wood is of excellent quality, but seldom available in sufficient quantity. The tree is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental.
South-eastern N. America - Virginia to Florida, west to Texas; Caribbean - Bahamas.
Sandy to rich moist soils of low woodlands, coastal forests, along the sides of bogs, streams and swamps[
]. Sometimes found in dry sandy areas in Florida[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A tree of the warm temperate zone to the tropics.
Succeeds in most well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
]. Tolerant of salt-laden winds[
The branches are brittle and subject to wind damage[
The fresh or dried leaves can be used as a flavouring in soups etc[
]. The flavour and quality are comparable to the true bay (Laurus nobilis)[
A tea is made from the leaves[
Red bay was widely employed medicinally by the Seminole Indians who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially as an emetic and body cleanser[
]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.
The leaves are abortifacient, analgesic, antirheumatic, appetizer, emetic and febrifuge[
]. An infusion can be used to abort a foetus up to the age of four months[
]. An infusion is also used in treating fevers, headaches, diarrhoea, thirst, constipation, appetite loss and blocked urination[
]. A strong decoction is emetic and was used as a body purification when treating a wide range of complaints[
]. A decoction of the leaves is used externally as a wash on rheumatic joints and painful limbs[
The bright reddish-brown wood is hard, heavy, close-grained, very strong, rather brittle[
]. It weighs 40lb per cubic foot[
]. The wood works well and is suitable for interior uses such as cabinets, but trees with large straight trunks are not sufficiently common to make the tree of commercial interest[
Seed - germinates readily after several months in the soil[
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