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Redbay Persea borbonia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
PER-see-uh bor-BOH-nee-uh
Description

Redbay is an evergreen tree that may grow 30 to 70 feet tall. The tree has alternate leaves that have a smooth margin and produce a spicy odor when crushed. The bark is reddish-brown with irregular furrows that separate flat-topped ridges. In early summer, small, yellow-green groups of flowers mature in clusters. The tree produces a dark blue spherical fruit. This tree can be found naturally in dunes, hammocks, maritime forests, and sometimes in the sandy soils of the barrier islands. 

The bark of the Persea borbonia is reddish-brown with irregular furrows that separate flat-topped ridges.  The wood, which takes a beautiful polish, is used for fine cabinetwork and also for lumber. The spicy leaves can be used to flavor soups and meats.  This plant is highly salt tolerant. This plat usually grows on rich moist mucky soil. This plant is susceptible to Red Bay Laurel Wilt disease.

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating.  

Seasons of Interest: 

     Bloom:   Spring    Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#shade tree#wildlife plant#native tree#aromatic#salt tolerant#cover plant#street tree#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#wild turkeys#racoons#opossums#deer resistant#quail#native garden#edible fruits#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#fruits#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#cover plant winter#pollinator garden#audubon#palamedes swallowtail butterfly#spicebush swallowtail butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#shade tree#wildlife plant#native tree#aromatic#salt tolerant#cover plant#street tree#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#wild turkeys#racoons#opossums#deer resistant#quail#native garden#edible fruits#Braham Arboretum#larval host plant#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#fruits#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#cover plant winter#pollinator garden#audubon#palamedes swallowtail butterfly#spicebush swallowtail butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Persea
    Species:
    borbonia
    Family:
    Lauraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used as an interior finish and for boat building, dried leaves make excellent substitute for tropical bay and used in the same way for seasoning.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    Found in NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, AR, and TX
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides winter cover. This plant supports Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes) larvae which has two flights from March-December with a partial third flight in the south. The adult butterflies feed on nectar from flowers like sweet pepperbush, thistles, blue flag, and azalea. This plant also supports Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) larvae which have 2 generations per year from April-October. Adult Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies feed on nectar from Japanese honeysuckle, jewelweed, thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, lantana, mimosa, and sweet pepperbush. This plant has almost been wiped out by the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle. The foilage is browsed by white-tailed deer and fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quails, foxes, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and black bear.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    The Redbay is moderately resistant to deer damage.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Description:
    This tree produces a dark blue spherical fruit that becomes available September-October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    In early summer (May-June), small, yellow-green groups of flowers mature in clusters on the Redbay tree.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Redbay has 2-4 in. alternate, simple leaves. They have a smooth margin and produce a spicy odor when crushed. A few yellow or red leaves drop during the season.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt