Umbellularia californica

California bay laurel

Habit: large aromatic shrub or tree growing in a rounded to pyramidal shape and having many slender erect branches and a dense crown. The greenish to reddish brown bark is thin and smooth on young trees; mature bark is thin, scaly and continually sheds. The elongated evergreen leaves are a shiny dark yellow green, leathery and thick with smooth margins. Flowering from mid winter to late spring the yellowish flowers are small and grouped in an umbel of 6-10 flowers that sometimes go without notice. The fruit resembles a light green olive turning to deep brown-purple. California bay laurel drops an abundance of leaves, especially in autumn when older leaves turn yellow and drop.

Ecology: found in a few places in Oregon and throughout much of California. They are abundant near water sources, in canyons, valleys from sea level to 5000 ft (1524 m) with the smallest forms found in dry chaparral woodlands.

Growing Conditions: full sun to full shade in well-drained moist to dry soil.

Can be used as a replacement for sweet bay laurel although more powerful and produce toxic effects in some people. Deer browse the leaves and twigs, which are high in protein, and birds, squirrels, and other small mammals eat the seeds.

Categories: ,


Evergreen Shrub/Tree
10-75 ft (3-25 m)
3-100 ft (1-30 m)
USDA Zones:

Native Habitat

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